Perennially Best Dressed

Marella and Gianni Agnelli

Fred Astaire

Marisa Berenson

Tina Chow

Cary Grant

Gloria Guinness

Audrey Hepburn

Slim Keith

Jackie Kennedy

Babe Paley

Millicent Rogers

John Hay "Jock" Whitney

The Duke and Duchess of Windsor a line of evening gowns under the label "Mr. Blackwell," which attracted high-profile buyers like Nancy Reagan and Zsa Zsa Gabor. In 1960, American Weekly magazine, a national Sunday newspaper supplement, hired him to compile a list of Hollywood's best- and worst-dressed stars. Mr. Blackwell's list became notorious for his willingness to criticize icons like Brigitte Bardot and Queen Elizabeth II. The lists established Blackwell as a popular arbiter of taste, and he continues to issue his controversial fashion pronouncements as of the early 2000s.

Given the visibility of Lambert's and Blackwell's lists, fashion editors were inspired to publish best-dressed lists of their own. Among the publications that have published, or continue to publish, best-dressed lists are Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, Vanity Fair, and Prima. People magazine publishes an annual special issue featuring best- and worst-dressed celebrities, while the annual Academy Awards show has spawned its own best-dressed subcate-gory. Other best-dressed lists have been printed by non-fashion publications like Fortune magazine and the New York Post.

Best-dressed lists allow readers to imagine that a winning profile is open to all, when in fact the top spots invariably go to wealthy people in the public eye: film stars and fashion industry or society figures. But the lists continue to fascinate as they impart lessons in style, self-presentation, and the ineffable quality of individual chic.

See also Fashion. BIBLIOGRAPHY

Blackwell, Richard. Mr. Blackwell's Worst: 30 Years of Fashion Fiascos. New York: Pharos Books, 1991.

Haugland, H. Kristina, and Dilys E. Blum. Best Dressed: Fashion from the Birth of Couture to Today. Philadelphia: Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1997.

Nemy, Enid. "Eleanor Lambert, Empress of Fashion, Dies at 100." The New York Times, 8 October 2003.

Wilson, Eric. "Eleanor Lambert Celebrates an American Fashion Century." WWD 186, no. 26 (6 August 2003).

Kathleen Paton

BIBA Biba has become a potent legend quite out of proportion with its relatively brief life in the mid-twentieth century. It was a shop and a label—but it was more than either or both of these: it came to stand for the "swinging chick," the ideal, running, jumping and never-standing-still girl, the image that dominated fashion from the mid-1960s until about 1974. That one word, "Biba" calls up from memory the long-legged, zany, crop-haired Twiggy morphing into the druggy, Pre-Raphaelite hippie of 1970: from the futuristic to the retro in four short years.

Biba was the creation of Barbara Hulanicki and her husband, Stephen Fitz-Simon. It began as a mail-order firm, selling gamine gingham shifts with matching head scarf in the wake of Brigitte Bardot. In 1964 the couple followed the just emerging trend for the fashion boutique as opposed to the department store where most women bought their clothes in the 1950s. (Small dress shops, known in Britain as "madam shops," still existed, but were by this time considered very old-fashioned, and small dressmakers were also dying out.) Biba's first outlet opened in the smart Kensington district of London. The young couple rented what had been a chemist's shop, retained in the window the big period bottles of ruby- and topaz-colored liquids that traditionally decorated such shops at that time (suggestive of magical potions), and created a dark blue interior with William Morris curtains, more like an Aladdin's cave than an ordinary shop. This was a totally different shopping experience from the department store or the "madam shop." There were no assistants pressuring you to buy by peering into the claustrophobic changing room and commenting on the clothes; instead there was a communal changing room free for all, more reminiscent of the school locker room than of adult life—but in an exciting way. The message was always that these fashions were for the young and carefree.

Biba really began to make an impact just as the mood of the 1960s began to change. From 1966 on, a creeping sense of economic discontent and social unrest in Britain was beginning to supersede the optimism of the first half of the decade. One of the ways in which this was expressed stylistically was in the mutation from future to past. By 1967 the Courreges look—flat white boots and a square-cut tunic, reminiscent of cinematic fashions of the future—was being displaced by much dreamier

Flat White Boots

Biba. From the mid-1960s until about 1974, Barbara Hulanicki and her husband, Stephen Fitz-Simon, capitalized on an emerging "old is new again" fashion trend with their London Biba boutique. The shop was furnished with Old World furniture and lamps while the clothing was reminiscent of the styles of the 1 920s and 1 930s. Larry Ellis/Express/Getty Images. Reproduced

Biba. From the mid-1960s until about 1974, Barbara Hulanicki and her husband, Stephen Fitz-Simon, capitalized on an emerging "old is new again" fashion trend with their London Biba boutique. The shop was furnished with Old World furniture and lamps while the clothing was reminiscent of the styles of the 1 920s and 1 930s. Larry Ellis/Express/Getty Images. Reproduced

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