On January 10, the Wolfsonian Museum, the Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, and SAVE Dade, presented two films, the first about Irene Williams, "The Queen of Lincoln Road," known for her extraordinary, vivid outfits, which she designed and made, including the hats; the second about Barbara Hulanicki, the designer, who founded Bibi in London in the 1960s and is now working in Miami. Both women developed, adapted, persisted.
Williams said she hated Boston, "There was nothing for me there." She moved to South Beach, to an apartment on Michigan Avenue, and set up business in a small office on Lincoln Road as a public stenographer. Every workday morning, dressed in one of her creations, she would walk from her apartment, down Lincoln Road, to her office. One day, Eric Smith spotted her. They became friends. It was Eric who made the film, "The Queen of Lincoln Road."
Williams at home with her hats.
Barbara Hulanicki and her husband were at first enormously successful in London. Her little, inexpensive gingham dress caught on, and the business went from a small shop to the grand Bibi in Kensington, successful until partners ruined it. Hulanicki walked away, worked in Brazil, came to Miami, where for the first time, without any experience, she designed interiors, among them the lobby of the Marlin Hotel. I wish I had a picture of that lobby with its polished metal design and metal bar. I would take friends to see it, the lobby, and the women's room tiled in bright colors. Sadly it's been changed. Barbara wore black to yesterday's screening.
A page from the Bibi catalog.
Two of the volunteers from SAVE Dade, an organization founded "to protect gay, lesbian bisexual and transgender individuals from discrimination on the basis of their actual or perceived sexual orientation," welcomed us at the door. All the volunteers wore the SAVE Dade tee shirt with the bright red equal sign.
There were contrasting looks at the Wolfsonian: Williams in bright colors, Hulanicki in black, SAVE Dade in boldly lettered graphics: red, white, and blue.