Rigg Outs

1960s, alun hughes, avengers, avengerswear, Bata, Dannimac, diana rigg, Don Silverstein, edward mann, emma peel, old england, Selincourt, Sirela, the avengers, Thomas of Mayfair, Vintage Editorials, Woman's Own
Cotton pique raincoat in cream with top seaming by Dannimac, £8 19s. 6d. Matching barrow boy cap by Edward Mann, who make all hats for the series. Exotic watch on wide patent strap, by Old England about £5. Beige stretch stockings with single stripe by Echo 9s. 11d.

Where do I begin? You don’t need another rundown of her incredible career and life. You don’t need to be told what a breathtaking actor she was. I think I just need to express what she meant to me, except I’m not even sure I can do that adequately.

Her strength and confidence was, and continues to be, instructive to me as a woman in search of strength and confidence. I think it’s safe to say that I wouldn’t be the person I am today if Diana Rigg hadn’t been the person she was and portrayed women in the way she did. I quite literally wouldn’t be where I am because she piqued my interest in John Bates and his work. I wrote my degree dissertation on Emma Peel and began my love affair with British boutique clothing, which in turn started my business and gave me my ridiculous eBay username. I first met my partner at the launch of Richard Lester’s monograph on John Bates, twelve years ago next month.

I was fortunate enough to see her in Mother Courage and Her Children and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, thanks to an adventurous Theatre Studies A-level teacher, and later in Suddenly Last Summer and All About My Mother. I travelled up to Sheffield for the former, and briefly met her afterwards. I couldn’t really have translated all that she meant to me into anything coherent, so I just got her autograph and told her I thought she was amazing or something (I don’t remember). She smiled kindly and said thank you. I don’t know, I probably hoped she might adopt me. But she didn’t.

There is profound sadness in her no longer being in the world but always joy in her body of work. Which I shall enjoy revisiting. And I shall make an effort to rescan a lot of my archive for the new era in my life. Thanks to her, as always. Because I always come back to, what would Emma Peel do? And without Diana, there’s no Emma.

Today is a feature on the Avengerswear range designed by Alun Hughes (who took over from John Bates for the colour episodes). Tomorrow will be John Bates Avengerswear. Enjoy!

The Avengers are back! And the fashion world’s buzzing with the great news of Diana Rigg’s new wardrobe. Here’s the low-down: ABC Television have seen to it that all Diana’s clothes can be bought, budget-priced, from big stores up and down the country. And you’re the first to see them in their true colours. Suzanne Grey has picked these five top-sellers, photographed exclusively for Woman’s Own readers.

Photographed by Don Silverstein.

Scanned from Woman’s Own, January 14th 1967.

Designed by 25-year-old theatrical designer Alun Hughes, an action dress in Celon jersey; sizes 10-16, also in natural/yellow/orange stripes, about 9gns. by Thomas of Mayfair. Hair by Allan McKeown of Here and There. Bata are making Diana’s Avenger shoes.
Fighting catsuit, with stretch an movement in navy crimplene with mustard side-stripes Echo are making these up-not only for fighters, more for apres-skiers- for 8gns. Selincourt are making Avenger furs; suede and leather togs come from Sirela.
“I love this,” says Diana Rigg. “It’s the kind of thing I wear in ‘real life’. All the new Avenger things are.” Stunningly simple crepe dress and jacket by Alun Hughes for Thomas of Mayfair, sizes 10-16, about 12gns. Larger-than-life watch by Old England, about £5.
‘Litting-nothing’ dress, epitomizing the new Avenger fashion thinking. “No gimmicks,” says Alun Hughes, “just elegant, modern clothes to counter-balance an Emma Peel-type life. Girls on the move can’t be bothered with bits and pieces..” By Thomas of Mayfair, about 8gns.

Inspirational Illustrations: The Ginchiest

1960s, Illustrations, polly peck, psychedelia, Vintage Adverts, Woman's Own

Scanned from Woman’s Own, October 22nd 1966

Ok, cats, I’m going to willingly lose cool points and confess that I had to look up what the hell ‘Ginchiest‘ means. (There’s even a song.) I can’t always immediately ‘get’ this kind of groovy talk. It was hard enough watching Beat Girl, daddy-o…

The Gospel According to John (Bates, that is)

1960s, jean varon, john bates, Woman's Own
I re-discovered this gem of an article from a Woman’s Own magazine from 1966 entitled, “They’re Experts on Women” with a fabulous interview with my entertainingly opinionated design hero, Mr John Bates. I thought you might enjoy it!

“Women are often dishonest – dishonest with themselves. They refuse to see themselves as they really are!” John Bates, the 27 year-old dress designer, doesn’t believe in mincing words. “And they might fool themselves,” he goes on, “but they don’t fool anyone else. I’m all for people trying to minimize their bad points, but sometimes women disguise faults which could be eradicated altogether, if they got down to some hard dieting and exercise.”

John feels that with so much good inexpensive, wholesale fashion, a girl has to concentrate on her face and figure. “Fashion is a challenge and I think it’s a challenge women need. Nowadays, with so many people buying the same clothes, a girl has to decide how best to present it so that she gives her wardrobe an individual stamp.”

Despite his vested interest in fashion – he is the designer for fashion house Jean Varon and recently designed Diana Rigg’s Avengers wardrobe – John doesn’t think one should follow it slavishly. “Study it to see what’s in it for you. I’m always hearing complaints that current fashion is directed at just one type, but that’s nonsense.

“I have three different types of girl to model my designs. Look at this design.” He showed me a short fly-fronted dress. “It’s classic really. Worn a little longer, maybe in a different colour, it would be ideal for the older woman. And to prove his point, we took the photograph left, of a simple dress from his collection adapted and worn by three women of different ages.

“Appearance is not all-important – there has to be something else – but it is quite important. Like all men, when I first meet a girl, I react to her appearance. It’s only after the physical impressions that you listen to what she has to say. So it is important to be attractive as well as interesting.”

And what makes a woman interesting? “Constant change,” says John emphatically. “When you’ve found your style, don’t stick to it or you’ll find yourseld in a rut. Don’t be ‘dated’ by fashion or make-up. Be bold. Try different styles as they come in – you’ll be surprised how much suits you. And don’t let it stop there. Change the furniture around; try new dishes on the family. It’s the secret of keeping interested – and interesting!”

And if you’re going to be bold, leave your husband at home when you go shopping is John’s advice. “He’ll insist on your playing safe – Englishmen are dreadfully conservative – and then he’ll spend an entire evening gazing at a girl in the outfit you might have bought if you’d shopped alone.”

John feels that English women have a rough deal. “Seventy per cent. of their problems would be solved if only Englishmen were more appreciative. They just don’t care; so who can wonder if the womne don’t care of give up? I blame segregated education and clubs.

“Englishmen will drool at the mention of a French woman and never look at their own. Yet English women are the best in the world. They have the best figures, skins and colouring, and a marvellous sense of humour. French girls are marvellous only because their men tell them they are.”

Rejecting emigration as an answer to the problem, what did John suggest?

“She must rebel. She must ignore any lack of interest from her man and make the changes she wants, dress to please herself, say what she thinks. Do be subtle about this. Express your opinions pleasantly and watch your timing. But a woman can get her own way if she goes the right way about it.”

John says that women must remember that they are people.

“That’s why I think that they shouhld carry on with their jobs after they are married. This ensures that they are still part of the human race – it keeps them bright and interested. It’s terrible for them to be cut off from the outside world and plunged into domesticity. And thre’s no reason why babies should stop them; if a woman finds babies aren’t enough to keep her occupied and happy, she should use nurseries…work to pay an au pair girl, if necessary.”

Not that John wants to see women imitate men; he just wants us to drop the age-old idea of the battle of the sexes and get down to enjoying life, and he thinks women can achieve this.

He enjoys working with women. “They’ll always have a go at trying to achieve the effect you want,” he explains. “Men approach problems in a different way. They’re apt to apply a slide-rule and, if you suggest trying something slightly different, they’ll insist it can’t be done. But women don’t approach things like that, and what might seem illogical to a mere man, actually works in practice. In fact, very often I don’t see their reasoning at all.