The Avenger

We've all been brainwashed into believing that Central St Martins single handedly invented British fashion. Nobody can deny the influence it has had, but neither could they argue with the power of the Royal College of Art during its 1960s heyday.
The man who was arguably the most influential designer of the 1960s and 1970s, for example, never went to a fashion school - he was a graduate of RCA. His name was John Bates and he was one of the first to prove that it is possible to project a wide commercial fashion appeal through the mass media. His reign over the high street began when he designed Diana Rigg's extraordinarily sexy costumes for the television series The Avengers, a look that was copied everywhere.
His implicit understanding of the line between raunchy and acceptable was irresistible and it made him the first man to give young women affordable clothes they could wear without frightening their mothers and alarming their fathers. It's a balance the high street has tried to strike ever since, and it goes to show that you don't always need college to teach you fashion savvy - not if you're already touched by genius anyway.

First published June 2006