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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  • sandra brown on

    my friends Mother worked for John Bates…had the turquoise and lime green one..Cilla had it so did 1968 and a lovely black one and a to chiffony one with flowers sewn on it…just gave them away to charity..and my Ossie Clarke oh yes and my Mary sad

  • Liz Sawyer on

    I have a beautiful late 60s/early 70s full-length Jean Varon dress. It is peacock blues/ greens and black with thin straps and yards and yards of floaty material. Stunning. Size 12. In very good condition. I wore it in my youth about 4 or 5 times. For sale.

  • Hayley Anne Rose on

    I love jean varon, I know someone who had a few of his dresses about five I think from her aunty lets just say she treated us to a fair few drinks at our local after that sale :) tryingg to build up a following for my blog check it out if you like x

  • Elizabeth Wallace on

    I have a Jean Varon dress from the 1970s,it is black taffeter with a full skirt from the bustline, it has a sqare neckline with a broad band a sequins in black under a stand up frill,it has long sleeves that fasten with zips and a frill down the edge of each zip. it is a beautiful dress and i am wondering if i could sell it it has been worn twice.

  • Kathleen McGuirk on

    I have a Jean Varon (John Bates) full length blue and off white dress for sale.

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