A major fashion retrospective of the
work of John Bates, who designed under the name Jean Varon from the
1960s to the 1980s, took place in July and August
2006 at the Museum of Costume.
John Bates was acknowledged as one of the big four names of
British fashion in the 1970s along with Jean Muir, Bill Gibb and
Zandra Rhodes. Nowadays, however, his name is less well known
amongst the fashion conscious, although ‘Jean Varon’ is a name with
which women of a certain age will be familiar. John Bates had
been under-valued in fashion history. This exhibition
redressed this inbalance.
John Bates’ intention was to produce good fashion design that
could be afforded on a secretary’s wage. This exhibition showcased
90 ensembles which bear out the designer’s words. From the Empire
line styles and daring see-through mesh dresses of the mid 1960s to
the bright prints, floating chiffons and couture clothes towards
the end of his career, this was an exhibition for everyone,
young and old, who is interested in fashion of the 1960s and
View a tour of the exhibition
View the 60s section here.
Designer John Bates in the stockroom at Jean
Varon Ltd, early 1960s
Models wearing John Bates dresses