Biba (Rare) 1960s Black Wool Fitted Skinny Rib Sweater
Fashion label heavyweight ‘Biba’ was the brainchild of Polish born Barbara Hulanicki, who with the help of her late husband Stephen, opened her first boutique in Kensington, London in 1964.
With a background in fashion illustration, Barbara was fortunate enough to share her unique visions with the likes of Vogue and Tatler, before selling her early designs through mail order columns of tabloid newspapers including the Daily Mirror.
With a reputation for decadence and art nouveau decor, her small shop was soon overrun by celebrities such as The Rolling Stones and David Bowie, while boasting affordable mini-skirts, felt hats, feather boas and trouser suits for the general public, a trend that showed no signs of stopping, and which led to a second store opening soon afterwards.
Drawing upon the mass appeal and overwhelming demand, Biba soon became available by mail order while the stores themselves remained popular, until Biba was relocated in favour of a much larger store on the Kensington High Street around 1973.
Here the Biba brand quickly spread to interior furnishings, food and makeup, while demand for the dresses and mini-skirts expanded to maxi coats and later high-end couture, thereby catering to a diverse range of clientele while slowly moving the brand more upmarket.
Unfortunately this drive for growth and expansion came at a price, and after years of unstable financial management, the majority Biba shareholding was sold to Dorothy Perkins and American singer Dennis Day. Now a limited company, Barbara soon found herself in creative conflict with her partners and sadly left Biba Ltd in 1975, shortly before its closure.
Barbara Hulanicki now resides in Miami, Florida, and following House of Fraser’s acquisition of the Biba rights in 2014, she has returned back to the label she once created, while serving as a consultant to its new owners.
This simple yet strikingly classic 1960s sweater features a wide scoop neck, long length sleeves and an incredibly stretchy ribbed wool fabric throughout. Wonderfully fitted to the form for a clean and defined silhouette, the upper bodice offer a spattering of bronze mini floral motifs which is so typically Biba, resulting in a strikingly handsome and rare piece of Biba design, destined to add a little romance and sought after fashion history to any serious collector’s wardrobe.
Fabric 77% wool | 23% acrylic
Size Label reads EU 38 but will fit UK 10
Excellent (see condition chart)
Measured flat without stretching (please double for complete size)
Shoulder To Shoulder (across back) 13″
Bust (at widest point) 15.5″
Length (collar to hem) 23″
Sleeve Length (underarm to cuff) 17″
Sleeve Length (shoulder to cuff) 23.5″
Mannequin is UK 8-10 | Bust 31.5″ | Waist 24″ | Hips 34.5″
The sweater was not pinned for photography purposes