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Wedding ensemble

  • Place of origin:

    Britain, United Kingdom (made)

  • Date:

    early 1966 (made)
    10 June 1966 (worn)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Bates, John, born 1938 (designer)
    Jean Varon (designed for)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Cotton gabardine and metallic polyester film on a PVC ground

  • Museum number:

    T.261:1, 2-2009

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

  • Image in copyright

The fashion journalist Marit Allen wore this dramatic white gabardine and silvered PVC mini-dress and coat ensemble when she married the film producer Sandy Lieberson on June 10th 1966. It was designed by John Bates, one of the most innovative and original designers working during the 1960s.

During the mid-60s, Bates's designs were at their most modernistic, as this one-off wedding outfit demonstrates. His mid-60s work often featured bare midriffs, sheer panels, and very short hemlines. Bates introduced plastic garments into high fashion as early as 1962, and was one of the first to design miniskirts. Allen credited him as the creator of the miniskirt, rather than Mary Quant or Courreg├ęs.

Marit Allen (1941-2007) was a leading British fashion journalist who started as an assistant at Queen magazine in 1961. In 1964, she joined British Vogue, where she stayed for ten years. Her 'Young Idea' pages were hugely influential. Many young and innovative designers, such as Bates, received their first significant exposure through Allen, who not only gave them magazine coverage, but happily wore their clothes herself.

Physical description

Matching mini dress and coat, white cotton gabardine with silver PVC accents. The coat is double-breasted with a deep silver collar and wide lapels. Silver buttons conceal press stud fastenings. It is worn over a sleeveless white cotton gabardine minidress with silver yoke and stand-up collar. The collar of the coat is designed to be worn standing up around the wearer's face. The silver elements consist of a metallic polyester film applied to a blue PVC (polyvinyl-chloride) resin mixed with gums.

Place of Origin

Britain, United Kingdom (made)

Date

early 1966 (made)
10 June 1966 (worn)

Artist/maker

Bates, John, born 1938 (designer)
Jean Varon (designed for)

Materials and Techniques

Cotton gabardine and metallic polyester film on a PVC ground

Marks and inscriptions

jean
VARON

Dimensions

[wedding coat] Length: 84 cm overall, Circumference: 93 cm chest, Circumference: 94 cm waist, Width: 45 cm centre back, Length: 51.5 cm sleeve, over, Length: 38 cm sleeve, under, Circumference: 21.5 cm wrist, Height: 6 cm collar, Circumference: 44 cm collar
[wedding mini dress] Length: 80 cm overall, Length: 35 cm to waist, Circumference: 77 cm waist, Circumference: 82 cm bust, Circumference: 89 cm hips, Circumference: 106 cm hem, Length: 45 cm skirt, Width: 35 cm centre back, Width: 34 cm shoulder to shoulder

Object history note

This ensemble was specially designed and made by John Bates for the fashion journalist Marit Allen (1941-2007) to wear for her 10 June 1966 wedding to the film producer and agent Sandy Lieberson at St Mary's Church, the Boltons.

Marit Allen entered fashion journalism in 1961 when she became an assistant at Queen magazine. She quickly gained control of the "About 20" pages of the magazine, in which she showcased young design talent and innovative photography. When Beatrix Miller, the editor of Queen, went to edit Vogue in 1964, she took Marit with her. For ten years, Marit Allen worked as a fashion editor on the magazine. Her "Young Idea" pages, written and captioned by herself, showcased innovative young design and fashion, and had a great influence on 60s fashion. Marit Allen was often photographed for her own stories.

John Bates was one of Marit's favourite designers and became a close friend of hers. He was chosen to do her wedding dress. Marit championed Bates, and insisted that he was the true creator of the miniskirt, rather than Mary Quant or Courr├Ęges. Bates' 60s designs were very adventurous - he bared the midriff, used vinyls - including transparent vinyl - and raised hemlines. His graphic silver and white wedding ensemble encapsulates much of his work in the mid-1960s.

Descriptive line

wedding ensemble, F, 1966. Bates, John for Jean Varon. White cotton gabardine and silvered PVC

Exhibition History

Unveiled: 200 years of wedding glamour from the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. (Museum of New Zealand, Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington 17/12/2011-22/04/2012)
The White Wedding Dress: 200 Years of Wedding Fashions (Bendigo Art Gallery 01/08/2011-06/11/2011)
John Bates: Fashion Designer (Fashion Museum (Bath) 01/01/2006-31/12/2006)

Labels and date

Mini-dress and coat
John Bates (b.1938) for his Jean Varon label
London
1966

By 1966 hemlines were well above the knee. When Marit Allen, editor of the 'Young Ideas' pages at British Vogue, became engaged to film director Sandy Lieberson, she commissioned the innovative young British designer John Bates to make her outfit. Although fashionably short, Bates's conventional combination of a matching coat and dress made the outfit appropriate for a church wedding.

Cotton gabardine trimmed with silvered PVC
V&A: T.261:1, 2-2009 [2011]

Production Note

Attribution note: Specially designed and made for Marit Allen by John Bates, albeit for his RTW label Jean Varon

Materials

Gabardine; PVC; Polyester film

Categories

Clothing; Fashion; Marriage

Production Type

Haute couture

Collection code

T&F

Qr_O1141052
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