Barbara Bui was born in 1957 Paris, France. Her mother was French and her father was Vietnamese. She has a Master's degree in English literature and her background is in the theatre.
She married actor William Halimi and in the mid 1980's opened a boutique which they called "Kubuki". This was quite successful. They sold clothes designed by Bui as well as other designers and it became a well-stocked fashion resource. By 1988, Barbara was designing men’s and women’s collections. She is known for her clean lines and an off-beat femininity that combines cultural and ethnic influences.
Bui's empire now consists of the BB line which came out in 1998, and her Barbara Bui line which is more relaxed. In 2000, she unveiled the Barbara Bui shoe line, with a range of footwear designs. She presents 4 collections each season, her Main Line, the BB line, her Menswear line and her Shoe line.
She has her own stores in Paris, New York and Milan and also owns a café in Paris which opened in 1999. Her New York boutique in Soho opened in 1998.
In 2001, Barbara launched her first US advertisement campaign. David Bailey, the famous fashion photographer, took the pictures required. The sales in the US have started to take off. Bui and her husband (who is President of her Company) are hoping that her rock-and-roll attitude clothes will become as popular in the United States as they are in Europe.
In May 2003, the Federation Francaise de la Couture, the Haute Couture governing body in Paris, announced Barbara Bui had been included in their membership.
From the beginning, Bui’s clothes have represented a strong and elegant woman, mixing more severe pieces such as leather jackets with voluminous, bias-cut skirts. She tends to favour black or tonal colours, and traditional fabrics such as wool and leathers, which give her designs a richness and timeless quality.