BIBA and Beyond Exhibition at the Brighton Museum & Art Gallery

Posted by Lipglossiping On March - 23 - 2013

Whilst in Brighton on Tuesday, I went along to check out the BIBA and Beyond exhibition at the wonderfully-quirky Brighton Museum & Art Gallery, situated just behind the Royal Pavillion building. The museum is hosting a fascinating retrospective on the designs of Barbara Hulanicki whose iconic work span the last 50-years. She’ll forever be known as the woman who brought affordable fashion to the high-street back in the 60s with the launch and opening of her first shop in West London.

The exhibition centres around an impressive display of vintage BIBA clothing, donated largely by one Angie Smith, better known as “Biba Angie” for her obvious passion for the designer’s creations. From graphic dresses to flared trouser-suits, sharply-tailored coats to cute swimsuits, the display captures the essence of the polish-born designer’s imaginations and brings them back to life with a narrative that tells the story of the brand from conception to current-day.

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Barbara’s work, first as a freelance fashion illustrator is documented via a series of drawings and sketches, most notably the one below of Audrey Hepburn.

The accompanying quote sets the tone for the exhibition that pitches the designer (quite rightly) as someone who was acutely aware of how the “real world” worked, she comes across as someone who has never lost touch with what it means to be a dedicated follower of fashion minus the limitless budget of the modern celebrity.

Her feistiness and determination to provide real-world glamour for the archetypal Biba Girl – feminine to the max but with a tough, untouchable edge – reached its peak in the early 70s when Big Biba, a seven-storey department store opened under the moniker “‘the most beautiful store in the world”.

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The hallowed Art Deco building on Kensington High Street housed everything the BIBA fan desired, from trendy clothes to designer furniture, from makeup to paints and wallpaper, you could even buy Biba-branded soup and baked beans!

The collection of BIBA cosmetics on display at the exhibition has been loaned to the museum by none other than the wonderful Lisa Eldridge who has a great demonstration on You Tube dedicated to creating the Biba Dolly look as worn by the girls in the shop. BIBA was the first store that let customers try makeup before buying it, leading the way and creating the blueprint that other stores would follow.

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The colours are vibrant and richly-pigmented, vampy Clara Bow-esque lips were the order of the day and smokey eyes with plenty of lashes contributed to the finished look.

The packaging featured the dinstinctive black-and-gold logo and delivered practical performance, something that was almost as important as the contents to the modern BIBA shopper.

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I’m going to leave you with the rest of my photos from the exhibition, I’m not great at talking about or thinking about fashion and design… but if you have any interest in learning more about a true pioneer and forebearer to the modern high-street, do check out the BIBA and Beyond exhibition at the Brighton Museum & Art Gallery before it closes on the 14th April. Adult tickets are £6, student tickets (with an NUS card) are £4.

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5 Responses to “BIBA and Beyond Exhibition at the Brighton Museum & Art Gallery”

  1. Clare says:

    Ahhhhh! I’ve been meaning to see this exhibition for ages but I don’t know if I’ll have time before it closes. Love your photos – looks amazing!

  2. Sydney says:

    That Mac. TAKE ME BACK NOW.
    I don’t think I have ever lusted over a coat quite as much as I am right now.

  3. Kirsty S says:

    I would wear pretty much all of those clothes with pride today. High street fashion seems so comparatively boring now :/

  4. That plaid trench coat is amazing! :O I have a bunch of Biba makeup and grocery bits that my Mum has kept over the years. I think she might have some clothes too but as a teenager she had a 20 inch waist so there’s no way I could ever fit them!

  5. Dolinar says:

    Love all the photos especially the vintage dresses of BIBA clothing. They are all gorgeous! This art gallery are all in one! From different kinds of clothing, to fancy cosmetics to different art works! I will have to check my schedule for me to go to this gallery and check out BIBA and Beyond exhibition. Great work, by the way!

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