Published only a week ago, I received my copy this morning and flipped through it immediately to make sure I didn't buy a pig in a poke. I'm happy to tell you this one just might be the Biba book to have. Written by Barbara Hulanicki (Biba herself), that means she has finally embraced the amazing event that was Biba and fully acknowledges its legacy.
Barbara Hulanicki has skirted around this for years (fashion pun— sorry). Who can blame her? The demise of Biba was tragic and life-altering. She survived by embracing another profession altogether, and is a quite successful interior designer of commercial properties whose sunny, whimsical work is light years from the misty, Gothic romanticism that we associate with Biba. Her co-author is Martin Pel, curator of Costume and Textiles at the Royal Pavilion and Museums, Brighton and Hove. Bibaphiles know that Brighton scores high in the Biba story. It's where Barbara grew up and attended art school. The book is published by V&A Publishing of the venerable Victoria and Albert Museum in London. In other words, this one has street cred.
For those of you who need the facts, "The Biba Years" measures 10" x 11 1/2" and comes in at 248 pages of heavy, semi-gloss stock. The hard cover is printed with the cover image, so there's no paper one to become dog-eared. It's a "coffee table book" with great pictures— of the clothing, store interiors, sketches, etc., but there seems like plenty to read as well. As promised there are facsimiles of the six Biba mail order catalogues (of which I have one actual in my possession), but they are matchbook size and hard to decipher. I'll see if a magnifier reveals the prices, which will make you cry by today's comparison. Not considered cricket to call it "Biba", I guess, but a last chapter covers Barbara's work from 1975-2014.
I've put my copy down, for now, as this one will be a Treat of the first order to dip and delve into— with clean hands!