|Freddie meets Mary...and her coat|
I don't usually talk in movies, but there was a point in "Bohemian Rhapsody" where I couldn't help it.
The pretty blond girl Freddie Mercury is flirting with tells him her fur-collared coat “is from Biba." And her friend follows with, "She works there."
I exclaimed out loud, "Biba!" That is a word to trigger memories, flashbacks and regrets (as in I shouldn't have given those clothes away). Biba was a store of legend never to be equaled. I've written about it here:
Freddie goes to look for the pretty girl, who is Mary Austin, the woman who became his great love and lifelong friend. As this is supposed to be 1970, that would be Biba on London's Kensington High Street. This was the brand's third store, which had previously been a carpet showroom.
|Interior of an early Biba|
Freddie has found Mary, the sales associate, near a display of women's pants. He innocently asks if she has the pants in his size. She proceeds to give him a mod makeover with a velvet jacket and long scarf.
|Freddie after his Biba makeover|
Increasingly more and more successful, in 1973 Biba took over the nearby former Derry & Toms department store, a 7-story Art Deco pile complete with roof garden. Biba refitted it in never-to-be-equaled Deco grandeur, rivaling any Hollywood set. Alas, through a mix of bad management and over-expansion—they were selling almost everything including baked beans— Biba closed for good in 1975.
|Interior of the last Biba|
The reference to Biba will surely pass quickly over most viewers. I do always wonder when Hollywood gets its facts wrong—Mary actually worked in Biba public relations, not on the sales floor—what other bits of the "true story" may not all be true. And "Bohemian Rhapsody" has a few of those. But it's a good film, with great music, and—well—a little bit of Biba.
|The real Mary and Freddie in later years|