Thursday, 15 April 2010

Designer Vintage Clothing Profile - John Bates

John Bates started his career as an apprentice at Herbert Sidon in the late 50's, around 1959/60 he started the label Jean Varon. Although he claims to have come up with the name himself, "I called it Jean Varon because at the time an English name like John Bates meant nothing, you had to appear to be French. Jean is French for John and Varon because there was no ‘V’ in the rag trade book. Jean Varon made a good graphic image”

John Bates was a main contributor in introducing the miniskirt. He designed the costumes for Emma Peel on the fourth season of the TV series The Avengers including what he called, "the smallest dress in the world." In 1965 these designs became very popular and sold out through shops within Britain. The same year one of his designs won "dress of the year." Other designs John Bates helped popularize were the trouser suit(1962), string vest dresses(1963), bridal catsuits, striped tube dresses, the "bikini" dress, and stockings with matching dresses(1964.) He was also known for his pop-art designs, mesh fabrics and the use of PVC (polyvinyl chloride.)

John Bates was one of the main British fashion designers working in what fashion editors on newspapers and magazines had termed ‘the Puritan look’. Essentially, this was a neat phrase coined to describe ‘buttoned-up’ dresses in sombre shades, but with flashes of lighter colours.

Towards the end of the 60's the clothing started becoming softer and more feminine. He became more known for his evening wear. In 1972 John Bates formed his own label. He continued to design for Jean Varon, although his own label was a lot more expensive. In the late 70's early 80's his label went bankrupt and he decided to leave the fashion business. Jean Varon continued through the 80's with designer Tom Bowker.

John Bates is now living in Wales working as an artist.

Click the following link for fabulous designer vintage clothing by John Bates at My Vintage

This is the first in a series profiling the iconic fashion designers from the 1960s, 1970s & 1980s.
Keep checking back for the next post in the series!

For fabulous vintage designer clothing visit

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