Monday 18 November 2019

Bairbre Power: Biba returns

Good design never goes out of date, just ask style icon Barbara Hulanicki

Beaded kimono jacket, €159; dress, €129, Biba
Beaded kimono jacket, €159; dress, €129, Biba
Gold structured jacket, €349, Biba Heritage by Barbara Hulanicki.
Bird print shirt, €115, Biba Heritage by Barbara Hulanicki; culottes, €89 and clutch, €150, Biba, all from House of Fraser
Leather-sleeved jacket with camel wool body and leather edge, €495
Deborah Veale: black silk /chiffon sequinned dress, €325
Deborah Veale: leather-sleeved jacket with silk jacquard body and leather edge, €495
Bairbre Power

Bairbre Power

Biba is one of the most iconic labels in the annals of British fashion heritage, and the return of its founder, Barbara Hulanicki, after 39 years, was marked by great celebrations among hardcore fashionistas who don't have to go to vintage shops to find her distinctive handwriting.

House of Fraser took control of the Biba label in 2009 and have played to the strengths of Barbara's iconic art deco branding and her gypsy feel. The company was savvy enough to invite Barbara to reunite with the brand she founded in London 50 years ago but lost contact with in 1975.

Sprightly at 78, Hulanicki has designed the Biba Heritage capsule collection with nine limited-edition pieces which are available at House of Fraser in Dundrum Town Centre and the store's website.

"It was very nice to be asked, I enjoyed doing it," Barbara told me on a call from her home in Miami which, appropriately, is beside the art deco district.

In Dublin, her new Biba Heritage pieces hang beside the 'sister' Biba range which has several stars for AW15. My own personal favourite is the kimono-style black coat with beading up the front and across the sleeves (pictured above left). At €159, I love both the price and the vibe of this coat with its kimono magic that doesn't leave you looking tragically theatrical. It also packs like a dream, as I happily discovered during New York Fashion Week, so there's another gem to add to your suitcase list of 'useful travel companions'.

Barbara has lost none of her fashion nous and after dressing all the style icons of the 1960s and 1970s from Twiggy to Brigitte Bardot and David Bowie, the designer notes that most of the modern-day celebs are styled by professional stylists. But she does confess to loving the style of actress Helena Bonham Carter.

Her Biba Heritage collection includes statement prints such as the bird motif used in the flowing shirt with black collar and cuffs (pictured far right). In her own wardrobe, black is Barbara's go-to colour "because it matches with everything and makes life easy, just stick to one colour." Not surprisingly then, her Biba Heritage range features some great black pieces like a faux leather stretch panel coat with a fit and flare shape and for drama, and a gold-trimmed black leather jacket made with ponte, a double-knit fabric with a two-way stretch that makes it ultra comfortable.


The return of Deborah Veale 

Deborah Veale hit the headlines when she designed lots of gorgeous outfits for President Mary McAleese during the 2011 Royal visit here. After spending several years developing her corporate wear label, I'm delighted to report that Deborah returns to the fashion arena with the launch her Deluxe Collection for Autumn/Winter 2015. The styling encapsulates Deborah's philosophy that clothes allow women to express their personalities through taking an individual approach on how to coordinate the pieces. The capsule collection features different styles of separates, each exclusively limited to only six to eight pieces. An online shop,, launches next Monday.

Weekend Magazine

Also in this section