Laura Silver | Contributing Writer | Sunday, 26 October 2014

Here's Barbara Hulanicki On How To Do 1960's Style Right

The Debrief: Because if anyone knows, it's the legendary founder of Biba

Just like Topshop will be remembered as the place that gave millennials their defining style, so Barbara Hulinicki's legendary boutique Biba was the destination that gave fashion savvy 1960's girls their look. More than a few decades later, it's an era current designers are still mining - most recently Nicholas Ghesquiere for Louis Vuitton, Carven's motocross babes and Chanel's student protests.

But chances are, unless you're a rich kid of Instagram, a shit-tonne of LV and Chanel won't be your way of getting your 1960's vibe on, so we tapped the Biba queen herself for some wisdom on how to channel the era now. And according to Hulinicki, vintage shopping isn't the easiest option either. 'I think there’s very little genuine 60's vintage around because it’s all disintegrated – none of the old fabrics could handle the washing machine when people finally had them!' she tells The Debrief from her new adopted home of Miami. 'There’s an awful lot of copies, out there that are probably from the 70's'.

So how do you spot the real deal? The rare bits of actual 60's vintage you'll find, Hulinicki says, are 'very basic colours' because back then, all fabric had to be screen-printed by hand, and each colour meant a whole new screen. 'There was one printer in London that would do fabric and it was really very hard', she continues. Wilder creations were creating by 'buying fabrics that were coloured already and print on top', she explains, but these relics have become few and far between.

READ MORE: The Complications That Inevitably Arise When You're Vintage Shopping

The real defining factor of an authentic 60's looks, she tells us, is simplicity. 'The shape should be nothing but just two seams and a dart and a sleeve, nobody knew how to pattern cut in those days so things didn't get more elaborate until later,' she reveals.


The easiest way to do the look yourself then? Make it. 'I think sewing is coming back like mad,' says Hulinicki. 'The high street is doing some simple pieces that actually look very 60's, so you can very carefully unpick the seams and make a new pattern from a finished garment. Then you can make the look your own.'

The right approach to fabric shopping might not be what you'd expect either. 'We used to use a hell of a lot of fabric for furnishing or curtains, which is actually the kind of look Prada’s just done a lot of,' Hulinicki says. If curtains are a step too far, then she suggests that 'fabric shops in the East End of London are fantastic for the brocades'.

READ MORE: Here's How To Get The Best 90's Vintage Stuff Without Leaving Your Desk

Now we hear you, making stuff is all very well if you can be arsed, but well, is that a new Facebook notification you see? Don't Tell The Bride has just started! And so on... Lucky for you, Barbara Hulinicki's latest venture, Iconclub, a site selling simple T-shirts, totes and silk scarves featuring her signature prints, might just be up your street. 'We sold millions and millions of t-shirts in twenty-three colours at Biba and I was dying to get back into it,' she says. Her illustrative prints get an intricate new lease of life thanks to more advanced modern printing technologies, giving a nod to her 60's heritage in a seriously accessible way. 'The pieces we have on the site are timeless,' Hulinicki says. 'And I think it’s all about that now.'

If true 60's style is as easy as keeping it simple, then sign us up.

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Follow Laura on Twitter @laurafleur