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Barbara Hulanicki

Kirsty Young talks to Barbara Hulanicki, fashion designer and creator of Biba.

Kirsty Young's castaway is Barbara Hulanicki, designer and creator of Biba.

Today her creativity spans fashion, illustration, interior design and architecture but it was the success of the label Biba that first made her name; launching a high street revolution with its opulent-looking but entirely affordable high fashion. According to Twiggy, "she changed fashion in England singlehandedly".

A newspaper advert for a £3 pink gingham dress in 1963 kicked things off and by the seventies her London department store was a throbbing temple to all things skinny-fitted in plum, mulberry, green, brown and black. Romantic, mysterious, nostalgic and very profitable. But when it all turned sour with her business partners, she and her husband Fitz walked away, leaving behind the hugely popular creation that had made her name.

The fantasy and perfection of her creations were a far cry from the harsh reality of her childhood; born in Poland just before the Second World War, the air of privilege that surrounded her family was traumatically punctured when her father, a diplomat, was assassinated.

She says "Now whenever I finish something I take some photographs and say 'goodbye'. When you lose everything, you realise that the only thing you have is what's in your head."

Producer: Cathy Drysdale.

Available now

45 minutes

Last on

Fri 13 Dec 2013 09:00

Music Played

  • The Supremes

    Baby Love

    • Love Supreme: Diana Ross and the Supremes.
    • Motown.
  • Artie Shaw

    Begin the Beguine

    • Begin the Beguine.
    • HMV.
  • Frédéric Chopin

    Polonaise in A Flat Major

    Performer: Vladimir Ashkenazy. Performer: Czech Philharmonic Orchestra. Performer: Elisabeth Leonskaja.
    • Piano Concertos..
    • Teldec.
  • Johnnie Ray

    Such A Night

    • 16 Most Requested Songs.
    • Columbia.
  • Marlene Dietrich

    La Vie en Rose

    • The Cosmopolitan.
    • Legacy.
  • Castaway's Favourite

    • Astrud Gilberto

      Girl from Ipanema

      • Getz/Gilberto.
      • Verve.
  • Bob Marley & The Wailers

    One Love / People Get Ready

    • The Very Best of Bob Marley and the Wailers.
    • Tuff Gong.
  • Lou Reed

    Walk On The Wild Side

    • Best Rock Album in the World Ever..
    • Virgin.
  • Book Choice

    • Thesaurus - Roget

  • Luxury Choice

    • Sketch book


Role Contributor
Presenter Kirsty Young
Interviewed Guest Barbara Hulanicki
Producer Cathy Drysdale


  • Sun 8 Dec 2013 11:15
  • Fri 13 Dec 2013 09:00

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