Biba Fever! Get Inspired With Our Nail Lacquer Homage to the Brit Brand

Biba Odalisque advertisement

Biba Odalisque advertisement

Today, London fashion draws from big names such as Burberry, a certain Posh designer and the spawn of rock ‘n roll legends (though, in reality, only British heritage label Burberry actually shows in Londontown). But in the heyday of London’s fashion scene, there was one brand that reigned supreme. Before the high-street shops gained traction with the likes of Topshop and H&M, the ’70s was all about Biba, Barbara Hulanicki’s brand of off-kilter fashion.  Her status quo-defying styling made it a magnet for girls who wanted to stand out, and now The Brighton Museum & Art Gallery is celebrating the world of Biba with an exhibition running through April 2013.

The retrospective will display Hulanicki’s clothes, vintage adverts and more, and for those who missed the swinging ’70s and want to relive Biba fever, it’s a chance to go back in time to see the brand’s best offerings. And for the ones who actually lived through it, it’s a reminder of a time of free-spirited fun.

Barbara Hulanicki, 1969 and present day

Barbara Hulanicki, 1969 and present day

Biba had something for girls who were a little bit off — from China dolls to Victorian punks and, of course, Twiggy-wannabe Mod girls, The brand’s iconic advertisements and salesgirls were known for being dark, sultry and mysterious. (Hulanicki famously had them all wearing mossy green blush and blue lipsticks or some variation thereof as they worked their shifts.) Signature Biba colors were reminiscent of bruised fruit, decaying forest plants and thick British jams. Yet, somehow, they were actually deliciously fun. To illustrate this, celebrity makeup artist and YouTube guru Lisa Eldridge generously loaned her collection of pristine vintage Biba makeup for the exhibit, giving visitors a real look into the beauty angle of the brand.

We thought we’d do a little gathering of our own in honor of the exhibit, so we’ve put together polishes reminiscent of Biba’s look, so you can step into fall wearing new colors inspired by Biba’s vintage look. (See below.)

And if you need a quick refresher on Biba and Barbara? Check out VisitBrighton’s short video documentary on the designer and the exhibit:

Biba advertisement

Biba advertisement

Butter London nail lacquer in Big Smoke

Butter London nail lacquer in Big Smoke

NARS nail polish in Super Star

NARS nail polish in Super Star

 

 

 

 

 

Taking colors straight from a vintage ad, Butter London in Big Smoke ($14) is a deep blue that has silver micro-shimmer. Biba girls were known to go a little overboard with glitter (it was trendy to cover the whole eyelid in nude sparkles), so we love the nod to excess inside the complex hue. Another favorite is NARS Super Star ($18), which happens to be part of the Andy Warhol collection, but fits right in with the deep slightly dusty feel that was a trademark of Hulanicki’s favorite colors. And while we love how editorial the combination of blue hair and a deep blue smoky eye looks, we think it’s a little easier to play with these colors on your fingertips and not your entire face.

Vintage Biba girl

Vintage Biba girl

Illamasqua rubber finish nail varnish in Optimist

Illamasqua rubber finish nail varnish in Optimist

SpaRitual Nail Lacquer in Optical Illusion

SpaRitual Nail Lacquer in Optical Illusion

 

 

 

 

 

Taking inspiration from another vintage Biba image, we found a bold yellow from fellow British brand Illamasqua. Optimist ($14), which has the label’s new rubberized formula that’s not quite matte and not quite glossy, would definitely be a Biba favorite for its innovation and off-kilter beauty. SpaRitual, which is known for being 5-free (no toxins in this bottle) released Optical Illusion ($10), a mossy green with a subtle pearl finish that’s a perfect hue for the coming fall season.

Biba beauty look

Biba beauty look

YSL La Lacque Couture in Violet Baroque

YSL La Lacque Couture in Violet Baroque

Lancôme Vernis in Love in Rouge Reglisse

Lancôme Vernis in Love in Rouge Reglisse

 

 

 

 

 

For the darkest, sultriest looks, we gravitated to YSL La Lacque Couture in Violet Baroque ($25) and Rouge Reglisse ($15) from Lancôme’s new line, Vernis in Love. Both promise a shiny finish without topcoat (though we don’t recommend ever going without), and both fit in perfectly with the deep boudoir-inspired beauty looks that were a Biba signature in the late ’70s. Choose the YSL if you want a deep plum and the Lancôme for a deep, almost-black red. Hulanicki championed the strange beauty that’s now a fashion standard (see: Lara Stone’s gap, Kate Moss’ broad forehead and Anja Rubik’s wides-set eyes), using unconventional beauties in her advertisements for both clothing and beauty. The brand had a full line of makeup as well as fragrance, and we love how these smoky plums pay homage to Biba’s bedroom eyes.

Photos courtesy the Brighton Museum & Art Gallery, MyBiba and Sephora

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Author:Christopher Luu for Fashion Trends Daily

Christopher Luu is a Fashion Trends Daily Senior Writer and Menswear Editor.