John Bates at Jean Varon

Embroidered dress
5 Apr 2014 - 28 Sep 2015
Free exhibition, no booking required

John Bates was one of the most innovative and influential young British designers of the 1960s and 1970s. Together with Mary Quant and Jean Muir, he produced clothes for the generation that created ‘Swinging London’.

This display of 12 outfits from his 'Jean Varon' label focuses on daywear and eveningwear, mostly from the 1970s.

Highlights include a recreation of a red velvet mini dress that he originally designed in 1967 and which was worn by Twiggy in a Vogue photo shoot that year.

The label’s big breakthrough came in 1965 when Bates designed a collection for the actress Diana Rigg to wear for the role of Emma Peel in the TV action series 'The Avengers'. It included an iconic black leather catsuit that caused a media sensation.

Copies of the collection were sold in department stores across the country. By 1968, Bates was designing for other celebrities, including Cilla Black.

Black and white photo of designer in his studio

Find out more about John Bates at Jean Varon.