(This post was originally from 2011. I have updated it with better quality scans.)
John Bates loves short skirts, money, false eyelashes and Cilla Black. Hates English bras, big busts and any sort of foundation garment.
“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.”
John Bates and model photogrphed by John Carter.
Diana Rigg cover photographed by Don Silverstein.
Scanned from Woman’s Mirror, 28th May 1966.
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?
If you haven’t got that special natural sweetness that makes people put a protective arm around you, don’t worry; it’s available this spring for under a fiver. Slip into these pastel pretties and discover the joys of being a choc-box dolly.
Another supreme example of amazingly styled and photographed late Seventies knitting patterns, further to my earlierPatricia Roberts appreciation post. I also immediately recognised those iconic Terry de Havilland zip-edged satin boots, which I’ve previously had in black and electric blue, seen photographed in pink and am now desperate to find the ice blue version!
Slip a shawl over summer and dream the days away in a land of your imagination. There couldn’t be a more beautiful way of letting a long sticky heatwave slip by than with these gentle colours made by a bleaching sun and these homespun clothes in soft country shapes. Whether you make it all the way to a shady plantation or just as far as the nearest cornfield, the scenery around any home this summer should look pretty good. Build up layers of cotton checs, sand suede overslips and warm rainbow knit waistcoats because even the sun can havee tantrums sometimes. Pack a pair of laced sandals and one huge-brimed straw hat.
Thea Porter describes the women she designs for as “thirtyish, tall and slim,” but she laughingly adds that “I design clothes that I know will suit me too, so they do just as well for short, fat people.” Whatever their shape, Thea Porter’s customers live a high-society, jet-set life. Their clothes must be dramatic, brilliant and packable, and Thea Porter designs are exactly what they need; the clothes are among the most coveted in the world. How did Thea break into the rarefied atmosphere of high-fashion design?
In 1965, Thea and a couple of friends launched an interior decorating service. “we started the fashion for enormous cushions, and we were just beginning to make a name for ourselves,”‘ Thea reminisced, “when I happened to bring back an antique caftan from overseas. I wanted to use the material in a decorat-ing scheme. Suddenly caftans came in to vogue but the only ones you could get from abroad were either minute or voluminous. So, with the help of a dressmaker, I started making caftans from lovely old fabrics. Then a photo-graph of Fenella Fielding wearing one of my caftans appeared in the Daily Express. More people began wanting them and eventually I decided to bring out a collection which I showed in a Kensington restaurant. I was still mainly a decorator but from then on things started snowballing. I had designed some jackets with masses and masses of braid which the Beatles bought, for instance. At the end of 1967, I took the plunge and started the shop in Greek Street.”
Without any formal training, Thea Porter became a dress designer. She knows nothing of cutting and sewing, and recalls her only attempt at dress-making as a child when she succeeded in cutting through her own skirt! An assistant takes all her designs to the pattern and cutting stage. The import-ant thing, to Thea, is the designing. She describes her philosophy quite simply. Using her hands to emphasise, she explains “you know how a line of poetry sounds right, as if it has been waiting for someone to write it down. That’s how it must be with a dress. It must be a complete entity and nothing must jar —unless clashing colours are an intrinsic part of the design. The shape, colour and fabric should be in perfect harmony. I put together every detail of the dress myself — down to the last button.”
Thea finds that she designs best away from her Soho shop, and works in spurts according to her mood, but she finds it difficult to describe the sources of her inspiration. “My two absolute standards are that I must like the dress myself, and every season I try to bring out five good shape’s. The collections are different every time. It can take me three weeks to do a collection — or three months. Some-times I get my inspiration from a fabric. Sometimes I do a sketch and then choose a fabric. I often buy fabrics without having the least idea of what I shall do with them.”
“I don’t use a method that you could describe”, she continues thoughtfully. “There are so many influences. For example I got the idea for a nautical theme when I was leafing through a book on Victorian painters. To be a designer I think you need a broad culture — certainly my knowledge of the East has shaped my creative thinking. A conventional art course would have been a waste of time for me.”
Thea Porter specialises in glamorous evening clothes and if there is a theme running through her creations, it is that the materials are almost invariably soft, flimsy and graceful and chosen to reveal the contours of the body. She buys them from all over the world: from India, Italy, Switzerland, France and England. She designs some fabrics herself. “I do a sketch, give it to a textile designer to translate, we work out the colours and we have it made up.” Expensive? “Very,” she agrees.
The tiny Thea Porter shop in Greek Street, London, is full of the exotic feeling she translates so expertly into her clothes. Amid the display of dia-phanous dresses, rolls of richly coloured fabrics are heaped on shelves and piled several deep against the wall in glorious disarray. From a battered cardboard box, a profusion of braids and ribbons tumble like wild flowers. A litter of photos, sketches and other paraphernalia are pinned around her desk. The casual atmosphere is typical of Thea Porter’s spontaneous approach to designing. There is, however, nothing at all naive about her ideas and plans for the future.
Until recently, Thea, was thinking on two planes, Britain and America. “The main difference between the two markets is that American women have such perfect figures and they like waisted clothes with plunging necklines.” Now she is working in yet another dimension — ready-to-wear. Not content with this, she is already planning new outlets. “I would like to do wedding clothes, children’s wear and lingerie. But there would always have to be lots of evening dresses. A woman feels different in the evening, more relaxed and prettier.”
This feathered headdress by Pablo & Delia is exclusive to Leonards.
Get your hair all dressed up for Spring! Beauty girl Ann Morrow brings you the newest ideas for many a yer on the hair accessories scene. But no need to stop there all you want is a mop of hair and a little imagination to get a lot of head-turning effect.
Photographed by John Carter.
Scanned by Miss Peelpants from Petticoat, May 1971.
Severe little buns and topknots look good with a snood added. This one came from Fenwick, and we added a bunch of cherries by Mr Freedom.
With this painted slide by Pablo and Delia, John at Leonard gave model Chrissie an oriental look. Her hair is drawn back tightly to show off the coloured streak attached to the slide.
These coloured streaks look like a bird of paradise – mail order them each from Annie Russel, 398 Kings Road.
A slide with a feather from Miss Selfridge. Match your eyes to your slide.
Play about with different slides. We found these in Miss Selfridge – apples that look good enough to eat.
Evening hair goes all glittery with a headband from Fenwick and a Fortes-style slide with a sparkle from Boots.
Flowered print are big news, so put some in your hair too This lovely spring bunch comes ready attached to a comb from Miss Selfridge.
From left to right: John Craig polo, £4.50., Just Looking, SW3. Felt clutch bag, Tillers, £4., Miss Selfridge and Way In, SW1. Satchel tote bag, Avril Gordon, £3.99., from Miss Selfridge shops. Striped polo, John Craig, £4., at “27”, SW3. Rainbow suede clutch bag, Biba, W8., £7.75., and knit hat, 75p. Fringed duffle bag, Xanthe Leather, £3.99., Girl, Wl. John Craig polo, £3., Girl. Leather and snake clutch bag, Bus Stop, W8., £4. Canvas bag with daisy trim, Xanthe Leather, £3.50 at Girl, Wl. Polo sweater with badges, Erica Budd, £2.90., Neatawear, Girl and Peter Robinson Top Shop, Wl. Bus Stop hat, £2.60. Bag in leather cowboy style, Wild Mustang, £9., to order, 30 Gt. Portland St, Wl., p&p inc. Custard Tart metal workman’s lunchbox, Mr Freedom, Kensington Church St., W8., £2.65. Ribby polo with stripes, John Craig, £4., at Stop The Shop, SW3. Knitting bag, Baggage and General, £2.90., Peter Robinson, Great Gear Trading Co., SW3. Leather shoulder bag with criss cross stitching, Girl, £6.99. Vest sweater, John Craig, £4.50., at Just Looking, SW3. Suede shoulder bag with badge and wings, £5.75., with matching hat, £4.75., by Tony Alston to order from 52, Sutherland Pl., W2, p&p inc. Canvas bag, Xanthe Leather, £3.25., Chelsea Girl, Mail order: 15, Perrins Lane, NW3 and 20p p&p.
Carry-alls in all shapes and sizes… patterned pouches to go pretty places, tough canvas (and tin!) toters for trains and towns and big squashy suede and leather shoulder bags for catching buses and boats and being busy.
I am particularly enamoured of the ‘Custard Tart’ workman’s lunchbox from Mr Freedom.
Fashion by Sue Hone.
Photographed by John Carter
Scanned by Miss Peelpants from Petticoat, October 1971
Satin crepe de chine tie neck dress and chequered over jacket by Anne Tyrrell at John Marks. Suede shoes by Mondaine.
When it comes to dressing up tonight there’s no such thing as a party line. Redheads come into their own with sleek Garboesque hairdos to set off shiny battledress tops and trousers. Jazzily printed crepe de chine dresses and jackets mix with jersey and velvet, softly innocent or dangerously backless and halternecked. Diamante remains the vital accessory – shining in the hair as well as sprinkled on bodices. The choice is yours and glamour the mood.
Photographed by John Carter.
Scanned by Miss Peelpants from Flair, December 1971
Cream jersey top and matching skirt by Mary Quant
Both dresses by Harriet
Liberty print cotton blouses and skirts, both by Courchevel. Choker by Ken Lane. Suede bar shoes by Russell & Bromley.
Pleated cotton voile horseman print dress by Thea Porter. Gilt and mock turquoise belt by Ken Lane.
Left: Dress by Reflections at Reldan. Right: Jersey dress by Baltrik.
Left: Ban-lon halterneck dress by Wallis. Right: Brown crepe de chine dress by Annacat.
Black jersey dress by Polly Peck. Inset: Jersey dress by Baltrik. Shoes by Russell & Bromley.
Black satin battledress jacket and trousers by Juliet Dunn.
Grey and red short wooly jackets by Elgee.
Fringed black shawl from Emmerton and Lambert.
Grey wool flannel full length cape by Christopher McDonnell for Marrian-McDonnell.
Our model, like all the best looking birds around, knows how to make the most of her looks without spending a bomb. She doesn’t buy goodies just because they are in lovely decorative jars or pretty tortoiseshell cases…
Headband by Biba.
Photographed by John Carter.
Scanned by Miss Peelpants from Petticoat, 22nd May 1971.