John Bates (born 1938 in Ponteland) was a British fashion designer who was part of the boutique scene that blossomed in London in the 1960s.
Bates apprenticed under Gerard Pipart at Herbert Sidon. From 1959 he began designing under the name Jean Varon.
Bates' work as Jean Varon in the 1960s was particularly modernistic. He designed dresses with bare midriffs, sheer panels, and very short hemlines, and as early as 1962 was designing high-fashion plastic garments. In 1965, one of his dresses with a mesh midriff was chosen as the Dress of the Year and donated to the Fashion Museum, Bath, which in 2006 held a major retrospective show of his work.
One of Bates' most influential champions was Marit Allen, the editor of British Vogue's Young Ideas spread, who considered Bates the true inventor of the miniskirt, rather than Mary Quant or André Courrèges. Ernestine Carter also observed Bates' originality, noting that the Paris fashion collections for 1967 contained many looks which Bates had done first.
In 1965 Bates designed memorable outfits for Diana Rigg to wear for her role as Emma Peel in The Avengers, including Op-Art mini-coats and accessories in graphic black and white, and a silver ensemble comprising a bra bodice, low-slung trousers, and a jacket. In the same vein he designed a modernistic space-age wedding outfit for Marit Allen in 1966 consisting of a white gabardine mini-coat and matching dress with silver PVC collar and lapels.
Since 2002, Bates has lived in Wales with his partner, John Siddons.