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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Words I like:

"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.”

 Lily Tomlin




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« More Biba | Main | Adventures in shoe painting, part 4 »

Serendipitous Biba

My last weekend in London, my boyfriend A. needed to pop round to a friend’s house. His friend lives with his parents and we had a brief visit with A’s friend’s mum, J. We were talking about hoarding tendencies and I asked her if she had any magazines from the ‘60s or ‘70s. She said ‘no,’ but she had saved all of her Biba catalogues. I could barely contain my excitement!

She pulled them out and I thumbed through them all, and asked A. to snap pic with his camera-phone.



J. said that the Biba shop was unlike any shop at its time. She would meet her friends there, they would try on clothes and then lounge around chatting in the clothes. It was more like a social scene than a proper clothes shop. A dress cost a week’s salary for her.

Can’t not love a fashion photo with a big dog! I love the Juliet sleeves on dress on the right, haven’t seen many that are actually above the elbow like this one.

More favorite elements – contrasting color and cuffs and square buttons on the dress on the right.

Wouldn't it be great if these designs were made today—they would be flattering on any shape. 

Again, the long waistcoat with v-shaped neckline would be flattering on those of us who are not tall and willowy.

Love the harem pants on the left. The gored skirt and loose, bell-sleeved jacket on the right is such a classic design!

I want this jacket. I have a thing for dog-eared collars and lots of buttons.

Obviously I like dark jumpers and spectator shoes

We called these “elephant pants.”

A, D, E, F (can’t see the letters, but the 3 on the left in the bottom row), are my favorites and I will one day make them.

I know that the Biba label has been re-launched by House of Fraser. I saw the in-store collection a few weeks ago and have to say that there was nothing I was drooling over, like I do with the original designs.

The owner of the catalogues, J., was a dead-ringer for Julie Driscoll in her youth (her husband even had her sign an autograph as Julie so he could get a discount in a shop). So, for her graciousness at letting me pore over her treasured Biba catalogues, I am including two groovy videos of Julie Driscoll.

Check out the dance moves at 3:20 (when there’s a better glimpse of her clothing).

I LOVE her vaguely medieval ensemble here! It includes some of my favorite fashion details – a lace-up bodice, a big Indian pendant, embroidery, a pouch hanging from a belt (yeah, I do that); and harem pants.

Do you own any original Biba? Which design above is your favorite? I will be posting more Biba catalogue photos tomorrow.

Reader Comments (4)

Happy 4th July!!
No way! Between us it must be Biba week!! Those catalogues are just amazing, the stuff of dreams. My Mum was a Biba queen, too. She had everything from the frocks and undies to the baked beans. She always said that the quality was pretty poor, that's probably why it's pretty rare these days! I've only got the knit pants I bought at the weekend, some plastic jewellery of Mums and her old lace-up boots (no labels but that's what she told me).
Wheels On Fire, that was the theme tune to Absolutely Fabulous, wasn't it? xxx

July 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVix

Oh hello, I seem to have been missing your posts, but you're back on my blog list now, so I can catch up!
My older sisters went to Biba but I missed out - they came back with all sorts of stuff from the closing down sale, but sadly it didn't survive. The styling and photography was so fabulous. And I love a bit of Julie Driscoll, she was a cool chick! xxx

July 5, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterpastcaring

Vix, yes, indeed, "Wheels on Fire" was the theme song for Absolutely Fabulous. Biba had baked beans! I had no idea. I didn't realize the quality of the clothing was poor.

Thanks for stopping by again, Curtise. I have some catching up to do on your blog as well.

July 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJoyatri

Hi Jo- Vintage Vixen aka Vix found a Biba at a thrift store for 4 pounds! What a score.

I've added you to the blogroll. Hello!

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