Pussycat: A John Bates Sizzler

John Bates (left) loves short skirts, money, false eyelashes and Cilla Black. Hates English bras, big busts and any sort of foundation garment.

As deliciously opinionated as ever (you have to take him with a big pinch of salt, like so many male designers…), and as promised in my earlier post with the cover, Mr John Bates in Woman’s Mirror, May 1966.

“Women are funny,” he says. “They heave their breasts up and out with tight padded bras and by the time they’ve finished squeezing everything in or pushing it out, they can look quite terrifying when they take their clothes off. Bras should just lightly cup the breast and tights are better than any girdle. Even the lightest suspender belt marks the skin. It’s muscles that matter – women ought to learn to use them properly.”

John, who is 29, created fashion dynamite with his sizzling clothes for Diana Rigg in The Avengers. He believes that skirts are going to get even shorter and that everyone under 40 should be pinning up hems. He says clothes look best on slim girls, but furnishes his flat with curvaceous statues and pictures of rotund Rubenesque beauties. He makes a lot of his own clothes, thinks that hipsters suit both sexes and most sizes, and always wears them himself. He’s now designing shoes, stockings and planning his new collection as well as designing clothes for men.

“And I always design something special for my mother at Christmas. Last year she set her heart on an Avenger op art fur coat. She’s well over 60 and I said, ‘Honestly love, it won’t suit you,’ but she said, ‘What’s good enough for Diana Rigg is good enough for me.’

“Usually I don’t listen to anybody. I’ve had my years of being told what to do. Now I don’t accept advice from anybody.”

Born in Newcastle, the son of a miner, John started at the bottom. “I’m no art school protégé. I picked up pins, embroidered, did the cleaning and had every rotten job that was going flung at me. I came to London because it’s the only place to work in the rag trade. I got on the train with a Newcastle accent and when I got off at London I’d lost it. I spoke very slowly for a long time, but it’s really the only way to do it.”

And joy! The magazine’s owner never sent off for the dress (which is sad), but this means that the form is still in tact (which is rather fabulous). Now where’s that time-travelling postbox I keep requesting?


11 Comments on “Pussycat: A John Bates Sizzler”

  1. Love the outfit, but those typically-Sixties shoes (and HUGE feet?) detract from an otherwise fine ensemble. The '70s had its share of fashion travesties, but the shoes of the 1960s were often not…unexceptional.

  2. Smashingbird says:

    What a great post, I'd love that dress. I'll let you know if I find that time travelling post box too! xxx

  3. Perdita says:

    I'm with him on the hipsters… but with regards to bras, 2 black eyes and bruised knees is NOT a good look so I'll stick with the ole boulder-holder!

  4. Miss Rayne says:

    love the dress, but find me the order form for the shoes please!I'm a bit obsessed with this style of 60s shoe at the moment, slingbacks even better.

  5. What a cheeky monkey! Mind you as a small bosomed bird I'm with him on the bra. I hate to see women with creases on thweir skin at the swimming baths from restrictive clohing, it can't be good for you. The dress is fab but I'm not liking the shoes, my feet are big enough as it is without elongating them further. xxx

  6. Ooops! The last sentence of my initial comment should've read:"but the shoes of the 1960s were more often than not…unexceptional.

  7. One of the reasons I find the mid-Sixties look so hard to 'pull off' is partly because my feet are large and the flat shoes just make me feel like a clown. Of course platforms make your feet look huge, but deliberately so – and it disguises my true clown-ness.I am, however, reassured by the fact that Diana Rigg always hated her feet and her mum used to refer to them as 'policeman's feet'. Charming!

  8. Any woman who feels she has large feet can take consolation in knowing that legendary beauties like Ingrid Bergman and Audrey Hepburn had feet larger than the gross national product of entire countries.😀

  9. […] Oh yes! It’s another wonderful installment of ‘The Opinionated Mr Bates’* – see also here and here […]

  10. […] Bates told the Women’s Mirror in 1966 (via the fabulous EmmaPeelpants): […]


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