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John Bates: Fashion Designer by Richard Lester

1/09/2011. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts

Buy John Bates: Fashion Designer in the USA - or Buy John Bates: Fashion Designer in the UK

author pic

pub: ACC Editions, 2008. 176 page illustrated hardback. Price: GBP17.00 (UK) if you know where to look. ISBN: 978-1-85149-570-2.

check out website: www.antiquecc.com

Truthfully, I was scouting around looking around for books relating to ITV’s 60s ‘The Avengers’, and found this book, ‘John Bates: Fashion Designer’ by Richard Lester, with actress Diana Rigg on the cover. For those not in the know, John Bates designed all her clothes for her two year tenure on the series, so I thought it would be a sure bet that there would be a fair selection inside.



The opening eight pages of chapter three are devoted to Emma Peel’s clothes with four photos of Diana Rigg and nine costume designs. There’s also a cover for ‘The Jean Varon Avengers Collection’ 1965 brochure which I’m sure most ‘Avengers’ fans would love to have a look at. I did have a scout around for that on the Net but with no success. It was probably my age at the time as I wasn’t aware that ‘The Avengers’ clothes were available for women to buy at the time. We take her fashion for granted watching the series again now but it was quite revolutionary at the time.

For that alone, this book is worth getting hold of. The rest is devoted to John Bates twenty-one year career in the British fashion world with photos and designs from his various collections under the Jean Varon and his own name label. Mary Quant might have been thought responsible for the mini-skirt but it was John Bates who really raised the hemline and making it sexy. He also dropped the hemline to make the maxi-skirt and even incorporated the bra into some designs itself, as well as exposing more than enough flesh at the back and once, with the front.

I have to confess that this is the first fashion design book I’ve read specifically about one person so have little to compare it to. Richard Lester’s book throws an interesting look at both John Bates’ work and that of his contemporaries at the time. If nothing else, I can walk away from this book with some knowledge I didn’t have when I started.

No doubt you’ll pick this book up because of ‘The Avengers’ connection but it’s worth reading the rest of this book for an insight into designer John Bates’ own career.

GF Willmetts

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