Beauty from Biba

19 magazine, 1970s, barbara hulanicki, Barbara Hulanicki, beauty, biba, british boutique movement, hair, Hair and make-up, Make-up

As with everything Biba creates, its newly opened Beauty Parlour in the Kensington store hits that striking note of sparkling originality.

It has 19’s stamp of approval. because it is a genuine beauty parlour, in the true, old-fashioned sense of the word. The Parlour welcomes you into a relaxed, spacious and luxurious, ‘Thirties’ world of cream and black decor, bedecked with dark green palms. It is the brain-child of Barbara Hulaniki— Biba’s creator—and Regis, a brilliant and inventive make-up artist and hairdresser.

Before Regis showed us around, we asked him to tell us about his past.

Looking every bit as dashing as Valentino himself. he said: “Call me a man with no past. Although I trained and worked in many leading salons, I don’t want to be attached to anything I’ve done before or The Parlour to be compared with others.”

The Parlour offers the services of a modern establishment (from haircutting to leg waxing) which it executes in a novel way. Here you are not a number with a gown—you are treated as an individual with individual needs. In true Biba tradition, on arrival, you are fitted out with a fabulous gown—either a long black satin one (if you are having your hair done), a black velour robe (for the guys) or a super black towelling robe (if you are going into the beauty room). Even the hair nets are pretty— black and silky.


The seating is so cleverly designed in the curved and pillared room that one client hardly sees another and, although each hairdresser—and there are three, plus Regis— has his own ‘corner’, all the involved treatments, such as tinting, bleaching, high-lighting and perming. are done in private cubicles.

Biba carries every conceivable shade of hair colouring and hasn’t just confined The Parlour to all the well-known branded names. Regis virtually combed the earth to find special formulas and effects.

Henna treatments are very popular and Biba uses several varieties—Black Henna, for dark heads; Neutral Henna, for blondes; Henna Wax for dry, split hair; ordinary henna, for a rich, red glow and a special henna, which can be used with a perm—normally you cannot perm hair which has henna on it. (Henna treatment costs from £6: tinting from £6.50; perming from £10.) Regis has fixed ideas concerning shampoo.

“A good shampoo is the most important step in the whole process. because if you use a bad one. then you can forget about doing an original style. Dull, horrible hair can never look good, however hard you try.”

Biba has 17 kinds of shampoo to choose from, ranging from ‘Almond’ and ‘Strawberry’ to ‘Henna Gloss’ shampoo, which doesn’t actually colour the hair but, with constant use, produces marvellous red lights. There are also three biological shampoos: one for greasy hair, one for dry and one for dandruff sufferers. (A shampoo and set costs £3, no matter which shampoo you need to use.)

Other Biba specialities are the after-washing, pre-setting goodies. Regis’ favourite is the Champagne Rinse, which gives a remarkable gloss and softness. The Henna Conditioner is good and there are Frictions, too, which are spirit-based hair perfumes, to make your hair smell beautiful, as well as look good. (Frictions are something mothers and grandmothers know all about. but which had disappeared from our lives—until now.) These cost 50p. each, and you can choose from ‘Orchid’, `Fougere., ‘Eau de Cologne’, ‘Passionate’ and ‘Gardenia’.


Blow-drying is virtually non-existent at Biba.

“We want girls to look truly groomed and feminine again.” said Regis. He believes in the old-style training and he and his staff use rollers (but not heated ones), Marcel Wave tongs, wave clips. small tongs and irons, and do lots of exacting pin-curling.


The Beauty Room is run by a very efficient lady and practically anything is done. There are treatments to help acne problems; waxing to remove unwanted hair; massage including a deep-back massage. with an infra-red lamp; spot reducing with Slendertone and eye treatments, which include eyebrow shaping, eyelash dyeing and the application of Permanent lashes. (This costs £4. and replacements later on cost 10p. a lash.)

The manicures and pedicures are superb. If it is just a plain one you want, then, of course, they will oblige. But if you want something for a special occasion then they can do fantastic combinations of colours, patterns and designs on nails and toes, too, if required. (Ordinary manicures cost £1: the special kind. £2.50.)

As far as make-up is concerned. Regis will create a fantastic new look for you and will advise on form-ulas, colours and applica-tion. (Cost £5.)

The Parlour opens at 11am., on weekdays, and last appointments are at 6.30pm. On Saturdays. opening time is 9.30am. and last appointments are at 4pm.

It’s sobering to remember that about seven months after this article appeared, Biba was closed forever.

Photographer(s) uncredited.

Scanned from 19 Magazine, February 1975.

2 thoughts on “Beauty from Biba

  1. Thank heavens for you Liz!
    I well remember the 60s onwards & Biba was one of my favourite shops, when I could afford!
    Bought a brown crepe dress with matching bolero for my December 1970 wedding from Crowthers, High St Ken & still have a black crepe ‘Ossie Clark for Radley’ dress from early 1970s (When my 4 daughters were young we used it as a cape for Halloween parties. Oops. But it survived!)
    I lost all my magazines from 1960s/70s Vogues/Honey/Viva etc.. too many house moves over the years..so am thrilled to be able to follow you & reminisce at your amazing collections. Thank you!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s