Yes, I know this is my second ASDA post in a week, but all the discounted baby stuff keeps me going back. Yesterday I went in to pick up a Moses basket for the bargain basement price of £15 (result!) and saw that the new Barbara Hulanicki for George collection is out on the racks. And it’s REALLY GOOD.
For those who are new to her: Barbara Hulanicki founded the iconic Sixties fashion label Biba. Think floppy hats, trouser suits and miniskirts. The Biba look included busy prints and what Hulanicki called “Auntie colours”: dark purples, blues and earth colours. Biba was also big on thriftiness, and the clothes were priced to be super-affordable.
I’m lucky to have my own Biba collection: long-sleeved winter dresses, a slinky patterned trouser suit that manages to be a bit pyjama-like and absolutely stunning at the same time, and pairs of knee-high boots in brown suede and tomato-orange leather. I’m also lucky because I didn’t pay a penny for it; instead, I inherited it from my mum, who dresses like a champ and never throws anything away.
The only sad thing is that not all of it fits me these days – and this was the case even before I was pregnant. The clothes are cut for Sixties stick insects a la my mother. I can still get into the boots and some of the more forgiving dresses but oh, how depressing it was to discover that the trousers wouldn’t even get past my knees! I’ll have to post some pics though.
The Biba label and Barbara Hulanicki parted ways in the 1970s, after hitting financial trouble, but Biba was relaunched by the House of Fraser department store chain a couple of years ago. To say that Hulanicki got sniffy about this was an understatement… Her response was to team up with ASDA Womenswear.
In her words:
“The thing I didn’t like about the new Biba relaunch was the prices – it is too expensive…With ASDA it’s the total opposite – it’s like the old days in the Sixties. I love seeing people happily shopping without feeling guilty because they’ve spent too much. I want to do what I always have done – make clothes for young people living in bedsits.”
The new collection isn’t big – just a few items, really – and in my local store, the decision has been taken to display it alongside lame-ass ASDA bits and bobs, like spangly neck scarves and plasticky handbags, below a tatty “Barbara Hulanicki” namecard, so you have to pick it out.
The most expensive item is this colour block dress for £20:
I’m rather taken with this: it’s good, thick cotton (better than the bobble-prone Sixties stuff, actually), a flattering cut and decent stitching.
I also like this flower print dress (£18), which looks far less prissy in real life than it does in the picture.
Also, it’s a wrap cotton dress: usually I don’t buy these from cheaper clothes stores because they tend to skimp on the skirt bit of the “wrap”, so that the damned thing flies open at the merest hint of a breeze. With this dress, however, the skirt part of the wrap is sewn up so that this doesn’t happen.
Finally, I know it’s boring because it’s just a cotton top, but I like this black cowl neck (£10):
It’s good quality, lightweight cotton and I like the way it falls.
The Biba / Barbara Hulanicki style isn’t for everyone, but I love it. Best of all? Unlike original Biba, Barbara Hulanicki for George goes up to size 20. It fits!