With an academic background in English literature and a passion for theatre, there is every chance we may never have seen a Barbara Bui creation step out onto the catwalk. Born in Paris in 1957, her first venture in fashion came in 1983 with the opening- of the boutique, Kabuki - the name is testimony to her admiration for the traditional Japanese performance art - a joint venture with her business partner William Halimi.
Originally a retailer of other designers' collections, Bui started to introduce pieces of her own work into the boutique and only four years later, in 1988, she presented her first collection to the international fashion press and her main line was born. In the same year, she opened the first Barbara Bui shop in Paris.
Strength and elegance have been at the heart of her work from the beginning. The use of delicate embroidery against block tonal leather emphasizes the feminine qualities that Bui admires. By 1998 a diffusion line, Barbara Bui Initials, was taking the classic style of her mainline and translating it into daywear. In 1999 she temporarily moved her show from Paris to New York before, for a period, removing her collections from the catwalk altogether. Her preference for alternative forms of presentation led to a successful collaboration with David Bailey, a photographer she felt was able to communicate the ethos of her designs.
However, 2004 saw a return to the Paris runways with a show of her signature leather, furs and heels. Today Bui presides over four collections (her main line, diffusion, menswear and a shoe range) with shops in Paris, Milan and New York.