Trouser Suit thumbnail 1
Trouser Suit thumbnail 2
Not currently on display at the V&A

Trouser Suit

1973-74 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place of origin

Barbara Hulanicki and her husband John Fitz Simon set up Biba in 1963 as a mail order boutique. The success of their affordable, youthful designs enabled them to open a small shop in Abingdon Road in Kensington the following year. Many of London’s fashionable new boutiques catered only for well-off customers (Mary Quant’s Bazaar, for example), but Biba attracted glamorous pop stars, bohemian aristocrats and impoverished students alike. In April 1966, the American news magazine Time published a special edition celebrating ‘London: The Swinging City’. It named Biba as ‘the most In shop for gear’.

In contrast to the futuristic styles and space age brightness of some sixties clothing, Hulanicki’s designs were inspired by the past. She created romantic, decadent garments for women swept up in the growing craze for vintage dresses. This printed cotton trouser suit combines a traditional fabric with a contemporary silhouette: a cabbage-rose print reminiscent of a furnishing fabric is used for a sharply tailored jacket paired with flared trousers.

Petra Siniawski, a leading actor in musicals at the time, bought this suit in the early 1970s. By this time Biba had taken over the giant department store, formerly Derry & Tom’s, on Kensington High Street. Siniawski had just finished appearing at the Shaftesbury Theatre, London, as the character Anita in West Side Story. 'It was a favourite outfit', she recalls, and she wore it when she accompanied her agent to a Shirley Bassey concert at the Royal Albert Hall in 1973.

Object details

Categories
Object type
Parts
This object consists of 2 parts.

  • Trousers
  • Jacket
Materials and techniques
Printed cotton
Brief description
Trouser suit in printed cotton, Biba, Great Britain, 1973-74
Physical description
Pink and green cabbage-rose printed cotton trouser suit.
Dimensions
  • Trousers and jacket weight: 1.42kg
Gallery label
Barbara Hulanicki chose a cabbage-rose design on a sturdy, printed fabric for this trouser suit, which is resolutely modern in cut. The conjunction of fabrics inspired by historical textiles and the very latest cut was characteristic of clothes bearing the highly desirable Biba label.(1997)
Credit line
Given by Miss Petra Siniawski
Subject depicted
Summary
Barbara Hulanicki and her husband John Fitz Simon set up Biba in 1963 as a mail order boutique. The success of their affordable, youthful designs enabled them to open a small shop in Abingdon Road in Kensington the following year. Many of London’s fashionable new boutiques catered only for well-off customers (Mary Quant’s Bazaar, for example), but Biba attracted glamorous pop stars, bohemian aristocrats and impoverished students alike. In April 1966, the American news magazine Time published a special edition celebrating ‘London: The Swinging City’. It named Biba as ‘the most In shop for gear’.

In contrast to the futuristic styles and space age brightness of some sixties clothing, Hulanicki’s designs were inspired by the past. She created romantic, decadent garments for women swept up in the growing craze for vintage dresses. This printed cotton trouser suit combines a traditional fabric with a contemporary silhouette: a cabbage-rose print reminiscent of a furnishing fabric is used for a sharply tailored jacket paired with flared trousers.

Petra Siniawski, a leading actor in musicals at the time, bought this suit in the early 1970s. By this time Biba had taken over the giant department store, formerly Derry & Tom’s, on Kensington High Street. Siniawski had just finished appearing at the Shaftesbury Theatre, London, as the character Anita in West Side Story. 'It was a favourite outfit', she recalls, and she wore it when she accompanied her agent to a Shirley Bassey concert at the Royal Albert Hall in 1973.
Bibliographic references
  • de la Haye, Amy, ed. The Cutting Edge: 50 Years of British Fashion 1947-1997. V&A Publications, London, 1997, pp. 126-127.
  • Lister, Jenny. 'Kaleidoscope: Fashion in sixties London'. In Christopher Breward et al. (eds), Swinging Sixties: Fashion in London and beyond 1955-1970. V&A Publications, 2006, pp. 22-43.
  • Elizabeth Wilson and Lou Taylor. Through the looking glass: A history of dress from 1860 to the present day. BBC Books, 1989, pp. 182-183.
Collection
Accession number
T.265&A-1984

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Record createdSeptember 9, 2003
Record URL
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