The Biba Kitchen

I came across some fantastic news recently and I'm going to share it with you. Well, it's fantastic news for any Biba fans like myself. My local museum, the Brighton Museum and Art Gallery, are to present a major exhibition this September celebrating the career of Biba-founder Barbara Hulanicki. I, for one, can hardly contain my excitement! Biba Kitchen

You see, I've always been a huge Biba fan; so much so that it's the middle name I gave my daughter. I have my mum to thank for my love of Biba; she shopped there in its early days and I clearly remember many of the Biba clothes she wore when I was growing up. My mum was on the customer mailing list for their series of beautiful elongated mail-order fashion catalogues. Due to some admin error, my mum would occasionally receive duplicates which she gave to me. Some forty-four years on they are some of my most treasured possessions.

Sadly, I don't own any original Biba fashion; my mum threw all of hers away before I was old enough to want to inherit her stylist castoffs. But I do have a small Biba collection of non-fashion bits and pieces that I've collected over the years that I am very fond of. Much of my modest collection came from the store that was known as Big Biba: seven floors of pure Biba selling everything from feather boas to Biba baked beans all in the stunning Derry & Toms building on Kensington High Street. If I could travel back in time to one place it would be there.

Big Biba Paper

Biba Baked Beans

I'd love to collect the clothes, but they sell for a small fortune these days, so with my fondness for food and cooking a Biba kitchen collection seemed the way to go. The Biba Food Hall which occupied the basement of Big Biba, sold a range of 350 own brand products; from wine to ice cream and baked beans to soap powder. These lines were intended for display in one's kitchen as much as for eating: canned, bottled and boxed goods to be cherished for the sheer style of their packaging.

Biba food hall products

On the shelf above my kitchen sink I have a jar of Biba Brown Sugar (still containing the original sugar), a jar of Biba Dried Onions and a jar of Biba Chickpeas (I also have an original unused Biba tea towel which I've been meaning to frame for years). Together they form the very humble beginnings of my Biba kitchen collection. With three down and three hundred and forty-seven to go, it is fair to say that my collection has some way to go yet, but I'm sure it will grow slowly but surely. Who knows, one day I might even get my hands on an oh-so-rare can of Biba Baked Beans. That would be the icing on the cake.


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