Fashion design, fabrics, interiors, illustration and more – Barbara Hulanicki’s creativity knows no bounds.
Born in Poland but raised in the UK, Barbara has been an icon of British fashion since the 1960s when Biba, the retailer she founded with her late husband, became the talk of London. She has designed own range for George by ASDA, created soft furnishings for TK Maxx, drawn wallpapers for Graham & Brown and Disney, and crafted handbags for Coccinelle. And, she’s shaped award-winning interiors for major US hotels. In 2012, Barbara was awarded the OBE for her services to British fashion.
Underpinning all these wonderful achievements is her fantastic natural ability as an illustrator. She has worked for leading fashion publications around the world, and traces some of her inspiration back to the graceful strokes of René Gruau and Kenneth Block.
After studying at Brighton Art School, Barbara built up a wealth of experience in fashion illustration for magazines like Women’s Wear Daily, Vogue, Harpers Bazaar, Nineteen and Honey, as well as leading advertising agencies.
"It’s all about body shapes, whether in illustrations or designing clothes, the colour changes according to the environment. In my Miami Beach studio, its all bright technicolor whereas London goes light smudges plums, violets, and burnt orange orchids," explains Barbara.
When creating an illustration, Barbara draws onto thick vellum paper and develops the work before transferring it to heavier card. Usually, she scans in the illustration to digitally add colour. Whenever she’s approaching a brief, she works closely with the client to work out the right vibe for the illustration.
Barbara’s style varies as she adjusts the tone and content of her images to meet the needs of her client. Her drawings have a lot of energy, and she enjoys creating faces that are lovely, but with a little extra – they have attitude, and something to say. For cosmetics, she uses a more instructional illustration style.
Officer of the British Empire (OBE) 2012
WGSN Global Fashion Outstanding Contribution to Fashion Award 2011
Cosmetic Executive Women Lifetime Achievement Award 2005
American Institute of Architects 1993
Miami Design Preservation League Award 1991
Bath Museum of Costume Dress of the Year Award 1972