Started on the 11th April 2011 - Blogging from a 20 year old Fashion Student

Thursday, 14 April 2011


Written ages ago but I thought I should post it ...


Biba was the most glorious fashion retailer of the 60’s and 70’s. It was the original brainchild of Barbara Hulanicki, a skilled fashion illustrator-turned-designer from Jerusalem. Hulanicki’s family moved to England when she was just a child.

Unlike most of the fashion retailers of today, Biba had humble beginnings and started off as a tiny mail-order boutique with a few cheap garments all cut to the same skinny size. Barbara wanted her designs to take off quickly and the first dress to become popular (and make the brand famous) was a simple gingham shift dress. This dress was advertised in the Daily Mirror and quickly went out of stock and into the homes of thousands of fashionable teenagers living in the UK, almost faster than she could have made them.
   After such a success, Hulanicki opened her first shop in Kensington in 1964, this became instantly popular as the young and fashionable flocked to pick up the cheap, wearable and devastatingly fashionable designs.

The Biba label went from strength to strength, it soon moved from its small shop to a massive department store on Kensington High Street – and so Big Biba was born.
   Big Biba seemed to answer the dreams of young women everywhere as it offered a luxurious and unique shopping experience. Then Art Nouveau label became intensely desirable, and appeared on everything in the store – from art-deco suit jackets to baked bean cans.
   The interior of the shop was also luxuriant and of an art deco 1930s style, rather than a 70s shop. For many, the Biba store was not simply a place to purchase, it was something to be viewed, marvelled at. Big Biba soon became a fashionable tourist attraction, just as Harrods or Hamleys is today.
   Big Biba sold everything: men’s, women’s and children’s clothing, groceries, shoes, make-up, accessories, playing cards, souvenirs and more. To add to its opulence, there was also a roof garden with live flamingos.
   Sadly, the wonderful dream that was Biba, was not to last. Behind all the extravagance and fashion design, the Biba label failed to keep up with the trends, and Barbara was powerless to defend her invention when there were arguments over creative control.
In 1975, Biba closed its doors and so ended a British icon.

The Biba Look
Made for the impossibly slim teenager and young adult, Barbara described the perfect Biba girls as ‘fresh little foals with long legs, bright faces and round dolly eyes’. The clothes themselves were frequently dark, romantic and owed much to the styles of previous decades- Art Deco especially. The colour palette, save for the odd venture into the more sequinned 70's glam look, stayed resolutely dark and rich- plums, rusty browns and inky blues. Some common features of Biba clothes include high arm holes, bishop sleeves and covered buttons. Today vintage Biba clothes are incredibly desirable and reasonably rare- however, if you want a piece of wearable history, they are not unattainable. Saddened by the story of Biba’s demise? Not to fear! Biba is back! Situated in House of Fraser department stores, Biba sells current designs with a 60s/70s edge. Definitely something to look out for! The look of Biba in 2010 is being stylishly advertised by the gorgeous model, Daisy Lowe who matches Hulanicki’s description of the perfect consumer for Biba. The new collection exhibits luxurious fabrics as well as cutting edge fashion, to appeal to today’s consumers. Biba seems to be as successful as ever.



Androgyny was seen as a highly modern trait within the fashion world, famously becoming popular in the 1960s as Twiggy unveiled her pixie haircut. From then on, it became popular for women to wear their hair short – a great contrast to the 1950s “up-dos”. This caused dominance within the British fashion industry as mod fashion developed, in keeping with the androgynous style.

Nowadays, androgynous fashion has become extreme, moving on from a simple pixie crop, to pre-op transsexual models.

New model, Lea T is causing a stir in the fashion world after modelling with Kate Moss in the androgynous issue of LOVE magazine and appearing in Givenchy’s A/W 2010 campaign.

Her striking beauty (a face too distinctive to be called ‘merely pretty’), full lips, strong jaw and long hair; mean that Lea fits the obvious model ‘type’. However, she is causing a stir within the world of high-fashion as there is more to her than meets the eye. Lea, born Leandro is an out and proud transsexual. As this aspect to her life is a rarity within the fashion world, it has helped her to become well known within fashion circles.

Classically androgynous models such as Agyness Deyn and Andrej Pejic (a young Australian model) have become increasingly popular throughout the noughties as they have provided designers with iconic looks to grab the attention of budding “fashionistas”.  However, Lea T has broken the mould with her transsexual modelling career, testing the publics’ levels of acceptance.
However, Lea’s open transsexuality has made her subject to a great deal of personal problems as well as boosting her career. She has admitted to having problems with her sexuality at a young age. Being confused as a child she remembers she had no “defined sexuality”. Her controversial life decision has also angered her strictly Catholic family, who claim to have disowned her and caused a family dispute.

The enduring difficulties which Lea incurred when she chose to switch sex are something which she became extremely insecure about. She chose to break through the barrier of humiliation by putting her circumstances into a very public situation and seems to have accepted that romantic relationships will become harder to attract.

Lea is proving to be an ambassador to an increasingly misunderstood community, as she is creating awareness within the large industries of both fashion and consequently advertising... And she couldn’t have been brought into the limelight at a better time – fashion as a whole is in need of more modern controversy and iconic personalities!

Tuesday, 12 April 2011


A bit late, buuut:
Late feb, the queen of punk, Vivienne Westwood gave London style setters their first LFW treat, in honour of her new collection of Palladium jewellery.
The 'Get a Life' party was held in the Wallace Collection, a place which holds the inspirational key to many of her past and present collections (situated in Machester Square).
As expected, the fashion glitterati attended, eager to share a glass of bubbly with Westwood. Which is exactly what was in store for them - the fashion-forward guests were given the opportunity to gaze at the artwork held within the museum while feasting on champagne and oysters.  
Attendees noted that Westwood's new jewellery collection has very strong pagan influences. The acorn tiara and brooches remind me of childhood fantasies of when I used to imagine fairies drinking tea from acorn cups... Perhaps good old Viv was going for that look (ha).
Naturally, the fashion crowd were attracted to this event, key guests included Lily Cole, Josephine de la Baume and Christina Hendricks.
Since the show, the Mad Men star (Hendricks) has revealed her most fashionable role yet, as she is set to be the face of the jewellery collection of which the event was in aid of. Christina said (of the collaboration with Vivienne) that, "It was a great honour for me to be asked to represent the 'Get a Life' Palladium Jewellery collection. I admire that Vivienne uses her designs to inspire change and the pieces are just so wonderful. The pieces really sparkle under the lights and I cannot wait to wear them on the red carpet".
*The Vivienne Westwod 'Get a Life' Palladium Jewellery collection will be available in Westwood's boutiques across London from March 2011, we await with baited breath!
**For more of an insight into the 'Get a Life' party, visit: to see interviews from the famous attendees.

Monday, 11 April 2011



Many of you probably know the great artist Andy Warhol, but his muse, Edie Sedgwick is often overlooked and forgotten.

Born: 20th April 1943, California.
Famous for: Being a style icon and Andy Warhol’s ‘Superstar’.
Style Characteristics:Large fake eyelashes and typical 60s makeup with eccentric clothes.

Meeting Warhol
Edie’s career started in 1965 after she moved from Art College in California to New York with her friend Chuck Wein. To make her way, Edie started a small modelling career but wasn’t happy with just that and so in 1965 she met the avant-garde filmmaker, Andy Warhol in a friend’s apartment. Coming from a rich background, Edie was a typical example of ‘old money’ which instantly attracted Andy to her, however, after a while; Andy became intrigued by Edie’s free thinking and iconic style. And so, ‘the Factory Years’ began...

The Factory
Andy’s iconic studio became known as ‘the Factory’ and Edie was drawn to the groups of eccentrics. Edie was instantly accepted into the group and became very popular. ‘The Factory’ was the place in which all of these artisans would create their own projects or star in Andy’s short films. Andy’s objective while making these films was to film them badly, but to do it well. 

Edie’s First Film
Andy found Edie fascinating and so decided to include her in one of his films, Vinyl, starring an otherwise all male cast. Vinyl was Andy’s interpretation of A Clockwork Orange and so was supposed to be about thugs and hooligans, this made Edie look out of place and distant, however, this was the look he was going for.

Whilst at the Factory, Edie modelled for Vogue and other famous magazines, she also met famous designer Betsey Johnson, who, like everyone else, was intrigued by Edie’s ambiguous style and heart warming charisma. Friends and family said she brightened the room with her smile, and made you feel like the most important person in the world when you spoke to her. Thus charisma was one of the reasons why people grew to like Edie; she wanted to please people rather than herself.  

Edie felt like she wanted to change her style completely. Turning almost overnight from a preppy young girl to a stylish woman. She cut her hair very short, started wearing skimpy outfits and developed her makeup. This was the equation for a proper icon.

Edie’s makeup became extremely popular and was to become an iconic element of the 60s image. She wore three pairs of eyelashes, eye shadow around the fold of the eyelid and white eyeliner on the inside of her bottom eyelid. This created a wide-eyed effect and made Edie look even more innocent and feminine.
   The whole look, with an added pair of extremely large, delicate earrings made Edie an icon amidst the threadbare public. Fans became extremely fixated on Edie, and she was one of the first celebrities famous for nothing in particular. Edie was known as ‘Andy’s Superstar’ as she wow-ed everyone around her.

Because of Edie’s new found popularity, Andy wanted to make more films about her. In April ’65, Edie starred in ‘Poor Little Rich Girl’ which showed Edie getting ready to go out. It was shot out of focus for the first half hour and was silent apart from the background music (an Everly Brothers album).  She played up to the image of a spoilt rich girl who had too many clothes she didn’t know what to wear, boasting about how she spent her entire inheritance in six months. The audience was intrigued as it was such a glamorous short film.

Andy Warhol was often blamed for Edie Sedgwick’s descent into drug addiction and mental illness. He famously said that he had never given Edie a single pill, “not even diet pills”.

Drug abuse soon took over Edie’s life as she could no longer pay for her addiction or her apartment. She never fully recovered and left Warhol after a year of close friendship. Later, she was admitted to a mental institution where she battled her illness. She married an inmate, but later died of a drug overdose in 1971. Surprisingly, Andy did not attend the funeral in California. She was only twenty-eight. This means that our memory of her will always be of the young iconic woman, rather than an ageing woman living in the shadows of her once exciting life.