Designer Barbara Bui was born in Paris in 1956. Her mother was French, her father Vietnamese — they met as students in Paris, when her father left Indochina to pursue his studies. BB says that her mixed heritage is very much a part of her identity, her work and her brand DNA, encouraging her to be open to and curious about many different cultures.
She had no formal schooling in fashion design. As a child her passions were books and fashion. Her love of books led her to the Sorbonne, and after nishing a Masters degree in English Literature she studied theater and experimented with a writing career. Then in 1983, she says, her childhood passions came together. she decided that, instead of words, she would write with fashion, “with shapes, colors and lines”.
With her partner, William Halimi, she opened a women’s boutique called Kabuki on the rue de Turbigo in Paris, carrying her own designs and a few other up-coming young designer. Her earliest creations were principally limited editions in leather or suede, made on site in her boutique and atelier. She presented a collection during Paris Fashion Week for the rst time in 1987, winning critical acclaim from international buyers and the press. The next year she opened her rst exclusive Barbara Bui boutique, on the rue Etienne Marcel—she was one of the rst young designers to open under her own name at a time when that was still rare. Success was swift. Her deft design alchemy, mixing feminine elegance with a rebellious rock ‘n’ roll edge, instantly struck a chord the contemporary Paris fashion scene.
In 1998, her company was listed on the Paris stock market, an important step that allowed her to deve- lop the Barbara Bui brand internationally. In quick succession during the following year, she opened her agship store at 50 avenue Montaigne in Paris, the Milan shop at 45 Via Manzoni, and took on New York, presenting her collection during Fashion Week and opening a boutique at 115 Wooster Street, in Manhattan’s Soho district.
The Barbara Bui accessories line was launched in 2000, starting with bags, shoes. In keeping with her rock vibe, her ad campaign wasphotographed by David Bailey, the legen- dary British photographer whose past credits included the Rolling Stones, the Beatles and theWho.In 2003, she was unanimously elected to the Fédération Française de la Couture, the governing body of the French fashion industry She now has boutiques around the world including France, Italy, Russia, Lebanon. In the US, as well as New York, she now has shops on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills and the glamorous South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, CA.