Haute History - Jean Varon


Sometimes, while prepping and pricing garments for sale, we come across a beautiful work of exquisite design and craftsmanship with an unfamiliar name on the label. This leads to a search that often results in falling into a rabbit-hole of sartorial splendor. Haute History is a column that shares some of these findings and pulls these gorgeous garments and their creators back into the spotlight!

Rare 1970s couture maxi dress by Jean Varon aka John Bates with metallic threads and daisy rhinestone buttons

In the spring of 2017, we came across a stunning 1970s striped maxi dress with metallic threads and the most adorable diamante daisy buttons. Not only was the color combination, fabric, and details incredibly unique, the construction of the garment lead pointed towards high-end designer quality. The label on that garment was "Jean Varon" and that is where we started our query. 

John Bates aka Jean Varon fashion collage of 1960s mod Avengers designs

John Bates, the British fashion designer behind the fashion label "Jean Varon", apprenticed for London couturier Henry Sidon before starting his own label in 1960. Best known for his modern silhouettes, including use of plastic sheer panels and space-age fabrics, he has been credited with the invention of the mini-skirt. His daring and innovative designs dressed Dianna Rigg as Emma Peel in the 1965 season of the action TV series "The Avengers", and graced the pages of Vogue in 1967 modeled by Twiggy. 

John Bates mod fashion retrospective exhibit

In the later part of the 1960s and the 1970s, the silhouettes became softer and more feminine. At that time, John Bates started another label under his own name, which was more avant garde. By the early 1980s, his eponymous label went bankrupt and Bates left mainstream fashion to create art and live with his partner in Wales. 

Obessed? Here's some further reading: 

Vintage Fashion Guild

Wikipedia

Walker Art Gallery at Liverpool Museums

John Bates: Fashion Designer (Book)

 


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