About Joyatri

Avid thrifter and vintage clothes wearer. Love 1960s and early 1970s styles. Partial to Art Nouveau, Pre-Raphaelite, Victorian, Renaissance and Medieval art. Former art historian. Current packrat. On a continual quest for good-looking, comfortable vegan shoes. Bhangra dancer since 2002. Fascinated by all things Indian. Vegan and animal advocate. 

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"She was dressed, as usual, in an odd assortment of clothes, most of which had belonged to other people." 

Excellent Women by Barbara Pym (1913-1980)



“I said "Somebody should do something about that." Then I realized I am somebody.”

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Biba and the Pre-Raphaelites

The title of this post sounds the like name of a band that I’d very much like to see.

As mentioned in earlier posts, I’ve seen two wonderful exhibitions lately and heartily recommend both.

The first was "Biba and Beyond: Barbara Hulanicki at the Brighton Museum and Art Gallery." While not a huge exhibition, it has enough fashion, drawings and other works to make it quite a tasty little morsel of a show. All the fashions are delightful and enhanced by the personal stories of the original owners.

When I had my hot little hands on all six Biba catalogues recently (here and here), I was amazed that some of the designs looked like they would actually be flattering on a range of figure types (not just the typical narrow-shouldered, flat-chested and slim-hipped 'dolly'). And I still believe so after seeing the clothes.

Classic look that I’d wear in a heartbeat.I want all of these dresses. My photos came out terrible, so I'll only subject you to one more. I recommend visiting Miss Peelpants and Penny Dreadful’s blog posts on the show for great images.

My major discovery at the exhibition is that I already own something illustrated by Barbara Hulanicki. Barbara provided the cover illustrations for these Le-Roy patterns from 1963 and 1964. I own Le-Roy 3156 (the one on the righ), which I purchased from a stall at Camden Lock in London about 15 years ago. I should have noticed the stylistic similarities with the ‘ghoul’ girls in the Biba catalogue.

It makes sense that those of us who love late 1960s and early 70s fashion, graphics and design would love Pre-Raphaelite art. Like hippies of the late 1960s, the Pre-Raphaelites revered nature, longed for simple times long past and rebelled against the constraints of society. Plus their works of art include all that long flowing hair, an abundance of luxurious textiles, and exquisitely rendered non-Western and medieval decoration.

A. and I saw the exhibition "Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Avant-Garde" at the Tate Britain and we were both blown away. I have seen many of the works in the show before, but I never tire of them and each time get completely drawn in. 

Some gems from the show that I don’t recall having seen before:

John Everett Millais, Ferdinand Lured by Ariel, 1859, Private CollectionDante Gabriel Rossetti, Monna Vanna, 1866, Tate Britain. William Holman Hunt, Isabella and the Pot of Basil, 1869, Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle upon Tyne.Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, but I'll probably be having Indian food, and giving thanks for that!

Reader Comments (9)

Happy Thanksgiving to you! that Biba exhibition looks wonderful, I'm salivating over those printed dresses.
I love that Millais, never seen him before.
See you on Saturday, can't wait! xxx

November 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVix

Both exhibitions look gorgeous. I am sure I have a Le-Roy pattern somewhere, now where did I put it?
I've been to the Laing gallery and seen the Holman Hunt.
Happy Thanksgiving, Jo, enjoy your Indian food, and your blogger meet up at the weekend! xxxx

November 22, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterpastcaring

I know nothing about Biba, but I know a lot about the Pre-Raphaelites and would love to be able to see that exhibition. In fact, it seems that there have been several wonderful Pre-Raphaelite exhibitions since I left Britain seven years ago, and I've missed them all!

Indian food on Thanksgiving sounds perfect, although we had a veritable feast of traditional foods that were also perfect. I'm very thankful for all I have, including a long weekend! All the best to you in Old Blighty!


November 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVal Sparkle

Both exhibitions are right down my alley, so I'm a bit envious.

How wonderful is it that you learned that bit about Le-Roy patterns? I love discoveries like that.

November 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLizzie

What a joy it would be to see both of these exhibits!! I was vaguely aware of Biba back in the day, and I love the patterns you photographed. I adore the whole pre-Raphaelite aesthetic (secret hippie-chick that I am). I'm especially enamoured of the last painting by Hunt. I've never seen it and I'm in lust with the piece of furniture she's languishing on, as well as the fabrics on and around her. Actually, I could live there, hanging lamp and all. Umm, what is she doing with the bowl (of basil ?), like steaming her hair or something?? Is there an historical context that I'm missing? It's utterly gorgeous, regardless.

November 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJean at Dross into Gold

I would love to wear those Biba dresses. I really must get along to the Biba exhibition and to the Pre-Raphaelites.
Thanks for the exhibition reviews - they do look great.

November 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNorma

I want those dresses too - very ditzy 1990s!

I always found Rossetti's women looked like men - beautiful flowy hair but really thick necks - though his paintings are so ... sumptuous.(Did his Lizzie really look like that?). I prefer Hunt, I think. :)

November 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGrunge Queen

O,that is a PERFECT name for a band!!!
I adore Biba, and am most disgruntled that it's not an internationally travelling exhibition! It wouldn't come here anyways.....:( I would want to paw everything, though, and then I'd get in trouble!!
I also adore the Pre raphaelites! You're just singing my song with this post!!! EEEK!

November 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHelga

It all sounds wonderful. I love Pre-Raphaelite artwork too. Reminds me that I recently saw a film about the group that was quite good. hmm...ah yes. It was a BBC mini series called the "Desperate Romantics" and centered around the brotherhood's (Hunt, Millais and Rossetti) most popular model, the one in the painting Ophelia. I do recommend it.

November 26, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterpao

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