Here at Lovely's Vintage Emporium we are beyond obsessed by a vintage designer called John Bates who produced a label called Jean Varon (he thought a French sounding name was more glamorous).

It is a mystery to us why he is not as well known as Ossie Clark or Mary Quant, as in our opinion his designs are just as stunning.

He started designing under the name Jean Varon from the late 1950s and he is perhaps best known for Diana Riggs' outfits when she starred as Emma Peel in The Avengers.

Some of the dresses below by Jean Varon are ones that we have sold in recent years.


The black and blue dress above is typical of his style as it is indeed glamorous, swirly, a boho style, well made, has lots of fabric and just all-round-gorgeous. We sourced it from a lady who is now in her seventies and it was bought for her by her husband to wear to a ball - she only wore it once and wanted someone else to enjoy it.

John Bates now lives in Wales somewhere and works as an artist...I have tried and sadly failed to track him down. If anyone has his details then do contact us.

The dress below is a 1970s Jean Varon for John Bates orange and Navy maxi dress we had for sale (now sold).

Anyone who was anyone in the 1960s and 1970s wore John Bates' designs. Penelope Keith always wore his Jean Varon label floaty dresses in her role as Margo Leadbetter in The Good Life, the late Cilla Black got married in one of his designs, actor Julie Christie wore his dresses in the film Shampoo and the fashion pages of Vogue were always filled with them.

Do please make a comment on this blog about his work as we love to hear from you.

If you want to find out more about John Bates then read 'John Bates: Fashion Designer' by Richard Lester



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  • Jill Stewart on

    I have a beautiful Jean Varon maxi dress. It has a embroidered flower print on bodice, long flowing wide sleeves. It has ribbon trim throughout. Fully lined. Completely labeled and also has a cardboard label sewn into the lining. This dress is in absolutely perfect condition, doesn’t look like it was ever worn.

  • Moira RIley on

    I have the above dress. I bought it in 1974. It was worn once (when I was 6 months pregnant) for a summer evening party. I have a photo of myself wearing it. I would like to sell it. It is in perfect condition as it has been carefully protected and stored for 45 years!

  • Richard Clews on

    I have an original bespoke 2 piece ball gown by Jean Varon that Diana Rigg can be seen wearing in the first 10 minutes of The Avengers, series 4, episode 26, ‘Honey For The Prince’.

  • david on

    Looking for any original outfits worn by Diana ring in,The Avengers.

  • Lovely on

    Hi Sandra, the dresses sound wonderful and what a shame you gave them away!!! love Lovely x

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