Follow us on  

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 finishing a Masters degree in English Literature she studied theatre 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, colours 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 first time in 1987, winning critical acclaim from international buyers and the press. The next year she opened her first exclusive Barbara Bui boutique, on the rue Etienne Marcel — she was one of the first 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 on the contemporary Paris fashion scene.

In 2003, she was unanimously elected to the Fédération Française de la Couture, the governing body of the French fashion industry. Debuting 2013 with more accolades, in February she won the Globe de Cristal for Best Fashion Designer, awarded by the French Arts and Culture Press Association. BB currently lives in Paris with her nine-year-old daughter Lan Joy. Their home, in the fashionable Marais district, is just a short walk from her offices and atelier.