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Biba, that hot British boutique label from the swinging Sixties and early Seventies, introduced its first ready-to-wear collection here this week. But while the original brand produced lines made from cheap and cheerful fabrics, this comeback collection, designed by Bella Freud, is being repositioned on a luxury level — with elevated price tags to match. Retail prices in the U.S. will range from about $180 for a sweater to a mighty $3,300 for a coat.

Inspired by founder Barbara Hulanicki’s creations, retro looks take a jolly jaunt across the decades, from a Twenties-style cocktail dress and muskrat and angora coat, to a Marlene Dietrich-style pantsuit and silk blouse with billowing sleeves. For those in the mood for fun, cheeky knits and Twiggy-style Lurex metallic minidresses come lifted straight out of Sixties London, while a satin halter-neck jumpsuit looks destined for the disco. The line also features new versions of iconic archive prints, such as paisley and shell-shape swirls, either enlarged or worked in new colors.

The brand’s accessories line, introduced for spring, has grown to accommodate a better-heeled, 21st-century Biba girl — featuring golden costume jewelry priced around $350, cute Lurex metallic snoods for $160 or chunky patent leather and metallic B-clasped belts for $250. Shoes, ranging from $350 to $1,000, remain cutely clompy, with platform styles running the gamut from gold to laser-cut to Art Nouveau styles. But what could turn out to be bestsellers are the brand’s rainbow palette of stretch suede boots and its eel-skin line, featuring mary janes with golden B buckles.

“We’re paying homage to the brand, but have fine-tuned its designs using more luxurious fabrics,” says Michael Pearce, chief executive and creative director of the brand, who sees gold in Biba’s heritage alone.

This story first appeared in the March 2, 2006 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

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