In April 2009 TopShop opened its doors in New York and has launched a highly anticipated collection featuring the Barbara Hulanicki range. The collection features t-shirts with her illustrations, chiffon dresses and blouses reminiscent of the original Biba style.
1. How did you develop the legendary Biba aesthetic and style?
Barbara Hulanicki: It evolved from one dress really but I’d have to say 30’s films were my biggest inspiration. It influenced me tremendously and I loved the old Hollywood glamour. When we moved BIBA to High Street Kensington it was a beautiful five-story Art Deco building. Naturally I felt inspiration from the deco period and it translated into everything I designed for BIBA.
2. TopShop is similiar to Biba in the way that it is all about fashion forward design + the coolness factor at an affordable price. How would you compare/contrast the style of your new TopShop collection with Biba?
I love TopShop. I always have. It’s my first stop in London when I visit. In the sixties there weren’t any choices on High Street. There were only boutiques. Now, I feel it’s too much. All of the shops are doing the same thing. TopShop is unique as it has it’s own identity and originality; in that sense I think people make the correlation to BIBA. Overall, I’d say the collection I have done for Top Shop is very girlie, which is very BIBA.
3. What was the inspiration behind the TopShop collection?
Good girl Bad girl and very feminine. Kate Moss is a great example of that juxtaposition. Love her image overall.
4. You’ve lived in Miami for a while now, do you miss London?
I miss my friends in London mostly. But I am fortunate enough to work there and I am able to visit quite often now. Miami has gorgeous weather, apart from the occasional Hurricanes, I love it!
5. Do you have a greater love for interior design or fashion design? Both equally?
A: I love Designing anything… anything anyone asks me to design. It’s great to go mentally between the two. Just when I think I cannot take another seam or pattern I am looking at floor plans and designing furniture. It’s a very good creative exercise.
6. What was Anna Wintour like when she was your employee in the 60′s?
She was very pretty and very young.
7. Who are some of your favorite current or up and coming fashion designers?
I think Alexander Wang and Rick Owens are very exciting!
Q: Personal favorite moment in London in the 60′s or 70′s:
A: My son Witold being born
Q: What advice would you give to an aspiring fashion designer who wants to follow in your footsteps?
A: Learn how to pattern cut! And definitely work with someone you admire- at any level.