Inspirational Editorials: John Bates in Vogue

Photographed by Barry Lategan

Photographed by Barry Lategan

“It all begins and ends with the girl. There’s no such thing as a ‘sexy’ dress – it’s just so much fabric until it’s on the body. The look depends so much on the wearer. You have to keep in mind that some stage in the day it’s all got to come off. You see, I’m a realist.”

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

“There’s a lot of rubbish talked about women dressing to please themselves or to impress other women. Women dress to please men. It’s for men that they keep themselves in shape, try out new make-up, change their hair. But it’s a very sad thing when a woman is frightened to move from what she knows her man likes. You can see it so clearly with wives and husbands; she suddenly ‘freezes’. Clever women know that by always looking the same you gradually make yourself invisible. That’s why I like to dress actresses – they’re not afraid to change and make men look at them with pleasure all over again. So each time I design a collection I make it new, concentrate on a different zone of the body… this time it’s the shoulders and arms, a way of cutting and gathering the sleeves.

“I think London women look better than anyone in the world. I admire the way Americans care, but it shows a little, and it shouldn’t. They’re best when they’re wearing the least make-up, and their hair shines like they invented shampoo, but come the witching hour of four o’clock… they’re hilarious. The French have a great way with shirts and sweaters and skirts, but we’ve been admiring that for thirty years. They’re inhibited- they won’t try something new. The English can be quite mad one day and very chic the next, and do it without any visible effort. Since the ‘sixties we’ve been enjoying fashion in a way that’s unique.

“I never want to hear the word ‘layers’ again. Let’s see the shape, let’s see it moving. I’m not talking about teenagers. I saw a woman who must have been 80 in one of my dresses at a party recently and the dress had a low neck. That could be a recipe for disaster, but it wasn’t. She looked great because she was thin and cheerful, she stood well, she’d looked after herself.”

Scanned by Miss Peelpants from Vogue, February 1976. Photographed by Barry Lategan. All clothes by John Bates.

*I say this with tongue firmly in cheek, of course. I worship the man…

Photographed by Barry Lategan

Photographed by Barry Lategan

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