Vintage 1960s Biba Catalogues

I’m currently in the middle of buying a new house with the hope of moving some time in July and as a result I am having to pack everything up. This is a bigger job than it normally would be as I am having to downsize due to moving to a more expensive area and, therefore, I have to get rid of so much stuff. With this in mind, I am going through everything, being utterly ruthless, before finally packing up what I’m taking with me.

My job for Sunday afternoon was to go through everything that was in the eaves of my attic room and, as you can see from the photo below, this was a huge task. I just stood there for at least 10 minutes wondering where the hell I was going to start!

attic

When I did finally get started I began to find things I’d completely forgotten I had, including these three beautiful Biba catalogues from the late 1960s. I bought them from an antiques shop in Burford, Oxfordshire. Each one was priced £6 but, if I remember correctly, I paid £15 for all three.

1960s Biba Catalogue

Biba, a truly unique fashion brand famous during the 1960s and 1970s, was started by Polish-born designer Barbara Hulanicki. Initially it was a humble mail order business advertising in the national newspapers. Their initial success came about from an advertisement placed in The Daily Mirror in May 1964 for a pink gingham dress, similar to one worn by actress Brigitte Bardot, which accumulated a total of 17,000 orders. This then allowed them to open their first bricks and mortar shop in Abingdon Road, Kensington just four months later.

1960s Biba Catalogue

Barbara Hulanicki, with the help of her husband, Stephen Fitz-Simon, built up a brand that became instantly recognisable with a heady mix of Art Nouveau and modern day Rock and Roll. Although the brand ultimately became a department store selling everything from toys to food and from books to clothes, it was the women’s wear range that has lasted to show us the classic Biba look. Their demographic were skinny teenage and early 20s women and the style was ethereal with tight sleeves, maxi skirts and oversized accessories, a complete opposite to the Mary Quant mod mini skirts.

1960s Biba Catalogue

The mail order catalogues were first put into production in 1968 which dates my three to between 1968 and 1971 as the prices are still in the old UK pound, shilling and pence currency which was decimalised in February 1971.

1960s Biba Catalogue

The front covers just have the classic Biba logo on them, but I particularly like the one that fills the whole page. The background colour is used throughout the catalogue with each image being overlaid with the same hue of terracotta, dark green or brown. The two with the small logo on the front have three double page spreads and two triple page spreads. The other has just one double page spread and two triple pages spreads which makes me believe this is the oldest one of the three.

1960s Biba Catalogue

I’ve photographed two spreads from each catalogue which I think show the best outfits and you can click on them to see an enlarged version. The very last one, on the far right, makes me think of Princess Lea!

1960s Biba Catalogue

I would love to own a genuine piece of Biba from the 1960s, particularly one of the maxi dresses as they are just so classic of the era. Do you own any Biba vintage? I’d love to know where you found it.

1960s Biba Catalogue

Cate

Just a vintage gal suffering from the Golden Age syndrome. Lover of all things old, lingerie obsessive, crafter and enjoys rummaging at flea markets.

14 Comments

  1. I have some original catalogues. I remember ordering the outift pictured above (the one with the dog) but I sent it back as it didn’t fit. I do still have a 1960s linen waistcoat. It was part of a skirt suit but unfortunately the skirt wore out I loved it so much! The items arrived in beautiful black boxes. So sad that I didn’t keep those too!

  2. I remember wearing a cotton suit with polka dots and large collar and cuffs. (I’ve seen a photo of it on the internet but wonder if it’s in your catalogue?!) I didn’t remember going to a shop to buy it and now you have reminded me that it was mail order. Fascinating. PS Did you keep the catalogues?!

    • I’ve just had a look through them but the only polka dot outfit is the third picture in the post. Shame, it would’ve been lovely to see which one it was. Yes, I kept them. There’s no way I’d get rid of these!

  3. I have the brown cataloge. Like yours. Would it be worth anything?

  4. I have an original piece of clothing which I bought in the 1960s. It’s a black satin full length evening coat with long sleeves and open at the front from the waist down. I used to wear a green satin maxi skirt underneath it. I also have five of the original catalogues, some with order form.

    • Oh wow, an original Biba! It sounds amazing, you should definitely keep hold of that.

      • Unfortunately, it doesn’t fit me anymore, so it might go to auction one day with the catalogues.

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