Jean Varon – There’s No ‘V’ In John Bates.

I recently was given a wonderful dress by my Nan that she found scrunched up in the bottom of a suitcase in the loft, wrapped up in a carrier bag that had started decomposing. Sweeping aside the flakes of plastic it revealed the most wonderful floral print…
Jean Varon Dress

… Finally shaking off all the debris it emerged to be a full length lined maxi.

She said she remembered wearing it once and no longer wanted it… Would I like it? YES PLEASE! Well long story short it turned out to be a Jean Varon number. Very posh. And from closer inspection of the label, it dates roughly from the early 1970’s.
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Groovy Granny. I chucked it in the bath with some non-bio liquid and a tiny bit of fabric softer and to my surprise it became a completely different dress.
IMG_8830The photos don’t do it justice! The colours are so very bright a vivid. So beautiful! The dress is rather typical of the time. A very arts and craft feel with the flowers paying respect to William Morris and the edwardian neck line.
IMG_8829Jean Varon has become an iconic name in design, but very few knew exactly who it was. Surprisingly it was John Bates who created some of the most iconic 1960’s pieces of design including some of Diana Rigg’s outfits for her role as Emma Peel in the Avengers. It was a first that women could own outfits that they had seen on the television.The beginning of wardrobes and the ending of costume.
john bates peel 1 It is even argued that that it was he who invented the mini skirt, not Mary Quant. I’m not taking sides on that one…

In 1965, one of his designs won ‘Dress of the Year’. It was linen, with an orange print and a mesh midriff. This was a trade mark feature of Bates, revealing flesh not only on the hips, but with laser cut holes in tights too.
1965But why Jean Varon, and not John Bates?
“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’”.
The maxi dress in this post is available on my Etsy shop.
BB Queen’s Wardrobe on Etsy


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