Avengerswear, elsewhere.

1960s, avengers, avengerswear, diana rigg, emma peel, jean varon, john bates, the avengers

Watching Circus of Fear, a very enjoyable B-movie from 1966 with Christopher Lee and Leo Genn, I noted that the luscious Margaret Lee was briefly seen wearing a piece of John Bates-designed Avengerswear.

Margaret Lee with Maurice Kauffman who, funnily enough, was Honor Blackman’s husband.

This black and white crepe catsuit was worn by Diana Rigg in The Avengers and modelled by Jean Shrimpton (with stunt man Ray Austin) for Vogue in 1965. It was, like all the Avengerswear, available to buy from the shops but these pieces are so rare and I have yet to find this catsuit in all my years of searching.

Dangerous black and white crepe fighting suit by Jean Varon Avengers Collection. Made by Simon Ellis, 13gns. Photographed by David Bailey. Vogue, October 1965.

I am now extremely curious to know whether this was something from Ms Lee’s own wardrobe which she bought herself, or whether the wardrobe supervisor (Charles Guerin) found it – oblivious to the fact that it was already a costume tie-in, or simply hoping that no one would notice. Or an even wilder theory is that it was the actual costume worn by Diana Rigg and already in circulation as a hireable costume. I suppose we may never know, but I thought it worth preserving for posterity.

Avengers collection promo, c. 1965. Scanned from John Bates: British Fashion Designer: The Sensational Years, 1963-1968

Larking around with Diana Rigg

1960s, alun hughes, avengerswear, diana rigg, the avengers

Diana and costume designer Alun Hughes

I came across this series of photos ages ago, and there’s something about the sheer volume of them which entertains me greatly. She looks like she’s having a jolly good time, larking around with the random chaps she has been thrown together with in the studio. I think they were mainly promotional photos for her outfits so, other than costume designer Alun Hughes, I guess the guys were just there for slightly unhinged, eccentric, Avengerland good measure…

Diana with British boxer Billy Walker

Diana with Avengers stunt coordinator Ray Austin (left)

Diana with jockey Josh Gifford

Plus rogue bottom-spanking photo with unidentified gentleman…

Avenging Knits

alun hughes, avengerswear, diana rigg, emma peel, honor blackman, knitwear, linda thorson, sixties, tara king, the avengers, Vogue

I’m frequently wittering on about Emma Peel, John Bates, Avengerswear…blah blah. But I have continuously forgotten to scan and post this fabulous double page spread from Vogue (October 1968) of a range of knitwear ‘inspired’ by Linda Thorson’s Tara King character and produced by Ballantyne. I’ve never heard of any Tara Avengerswear gear before or since, perhaps because her wardrobe was pretty dreary half of the time – thanks Alun Hughes, and it’s always struck me as rather sad that she didn’t get her own ‘range’. Even Honor Blackman as Cathy Gale had a range designed by British couturier Frederick Starke!

So it’s awfully nice to know she at least had her own line of cashmere knits. Hurrah!

p.s I am terrible at identifying models, but I love love love her hair.

Emmapeelers by Terry O’Neill

1960s, avengers, avengerswear, diana rigg, emma peel, terry o'neill

I am hoping to get to see the Terry O’Neill exhibition this weekend, if I’m feeling up to it. Although I doubt it will feature these photos of Diana Rigg in all her Emmapeeler Glory, more’s the pity. Enjoy!

(I’d rather have a Bates Avengerswear piece, but I certainly wouldn’t say no to an Emmapeeler!)

Photos by Terry O’Neill. TV Guide, June 1967

Emmapeel… dress

1960s, alun hughes, avengers, avengerswear, diana rigg, emma peel, eye candy, john bates, personal collection, vintage fangirl squee

I alluded, in an earlier post, to having recently acquired an original Avengerswear piece. Now before you go getting too excited on my behalf (because, you know, I imagine you would…..), it’s not a John Bates one. That remains my holy grail of collecting…

Diana and Alun

In the first colour season of The Avengers, Alun Hughes took over from John Bates as costume designer. Although strictly speaking Bates was never the costume designer per se, he simply provided Mrs Peel with a fully equipped working mod-girl wardrobe. Which would be used in various ways by the designer and whoever else happened to be making such decisions. Explaining why so many fabulous outfits, in which Diana Rigg was heavily photographed for publicity, made only brief appearances – if at all.

The colour episodes had been intended to be designed in a similar ‘working wardrobe’ manner by Pierre Cardin, who was already creating Steed’s very elegant suits [Shocking! A Frenchman designing our beloved Avengers? Whatever next??], but he was unable to complete the task and Hughes was brought on board as designer instead. Unfortunately I know very little about the man himself, but it would seem he actually was a costume designer rather than a fashion designer like Bates or Cardin. With the new colour format, and the strong overseas interest in the show, Hughes had new challenges to those of Bates with the black and white. He attacked it with gusto, using vivid colours, prints and playing with new synthetic fabrics. There’s also the varied influences, reflecting the ever-changing fashion scene of the time. We still have space-age cut-outs and skin tight gear, but also feathers and psychedelic silks. The look is more way-out, and more feminine than ever. He also invented the Emmapeeler, which was a more ‘Pop’ take on the leather and pvc catsuits of the earlier series.

“Don’t diss my mustard emmapeelers!”

As with Bates, and Frederick Starke before him, an Avengerswear range of clothes was produced and licensed out to different manufacturers and shops. Unlike Bates, whose Avengerswear collection was largely complete replicas of the Mrs Peel-worn originals, Hughes’ designs were used as templates for a wider range of colours and styles. Most items were produced in different colourways to the one seen on screen, again unlike Bates who was largely working in black and white anyway, and it would also seem that some items were produced in different lengths.

This stunning moire patterned velvet dress is clearly the same design as the one she wears in Return Of The Cybernauts. Emma’s is black (or perhaps dark green, it’s difficult to tell with early colour television) and a mini. Mine is purple and a maxi length. Nevertheless, it’s my first – and possibly only piece of Hughes’ Avengerswear and I feel very honoured to now have it in my possession.