1970s Documented Jean Varon Black Spider Cobweb Dress


Fine and rare Jean Varon spider cobweb dress which can be dated to the designer's 1973 collection and featured here in the September issue of British Vogue. Fashioned in a sleek black jersey with a slight sheen, it has faceted-domed glass buttons down the front and around the wide cuff billow sleeves. It has a half-length front hidden zip for ease of access. The embroidered tulle panel on the back with applications of beads and sequins forming spiders crawling around cobwebs and has made this dress the most prized of all John Bate's designs. They rarely come up for sale; this has been in Circa's collection nearly 20 years and is notably held in several fashion museums worldwide.

In fabulous vintage condition with absolutely no issues and is worthy of museum acquisition. The only thing if we're being very, very picky is that there are two tiny pin holes on the back near the right-hand seam; absolutely impossible to see when worn and only noticed when the dress was held to the light. It is best for a size UK 8 or US 4 and smaller on account of the small waist.

Notes on Designer: John Bates was a highly regarded British designer who began his label Jean Varon in 1959. Famous for sheer panels, short hemlines and bare midriffs, he was one of the pioneers of the miniskirt and trousers for women. He chose the name Jean Varon in order to appear to be French and also because it meant he was the only designer under the letter 'V' in the rag trade book. In 1965, he designed outfits in Op Art prints for Diana Rigg for her role as Emma Peel in The Avengers. John Bates, along with Ossie Clark, Gina Fratini and Bill Gibb, pioneered a romantic and dramatic mood in fashion in the early 1970s.

Bust - 44 in. (110 cm)
Waist - 24 in. (60.5 cm)
Hip - 72 in. (182.88 cm)
Length - 59 in. (148 cm)
Shoulders - 18.5in. (47 cm)

Pickup available at CIRCA VINTAGE

Usually ready in 24 hours


Will you set anything aside for me before I come?

We are happy to find anything you may be interested in from our website - please let us know a week in advance. 

We also have an extensive offline collection. If you let us know your size, style, favourite colour to wear and perhaps your budget, we can browse through our archive in advance of your appointment. 

Do I need to bring anything with me?

Clients may wish to bring modern shapewear when trying on garments from certain eras, especially the 1950s. Vintage clothing was often worn with undergarments that shaped the waist and as such is tailored for them.

We have a huge variety of slip dresses and petticoats to complete your look; many of which are also for sale.

You may also wish to bring your favourite footwear. We often find a classic pair of nude shoes work well when trying on, or a pair in gold or silver.

Do you have a price range?

Many of our lower-priced pieces (under £150) are not available to buy online. Our prices range from £80 - £600 for separates. Dresses start at around £150 and go up to £2,500 for the very best antique pieces and designer vintage. Our bridalwear ranges from £300 - £3,000.

Can I bring anyone with me?

Yes but please do let us know the size of your party in advance.

Where can I get alterations?

We offer some alterations in house. Should you need alterations we cannot provide, we can refer you to one of our tried and trusted tailors.

Do you have an after-care service?

We will advise you on the best way to clean and preserve your vintage pieces and can also recommend trusted local dry cleaners.

Can I cancel my appointment?

You are free to cancel but please do give us as much notice as possible. If you cancel less than 24 hours before your appointment, you will be invoiced a late cancellation fee of £25.

Where's the showroom?

Our address is Circa Vintage, 87A Lansdowne Way London SW8 2PB

Upon arrival, buzz the 87A button on the gate or call us 020 7736 5038 to let you in.

Do you have parking?

We offer free, secure, off-street parking but it is a tight squeeze – so do let us know in advance if you will be needing this and we can make sure that there is space available.

How do I get there by public transport?


Stockwell (7 min walk) - Northern and Victoria Lines

Nine Elms (9 min walk) – Northern Line


Wandsworth Road (13 min walk) – Westbound to Clapham Junction / Eastbound to Dalston Junction

What payment methods do you accept?

Cash, credit/debit card, bank transfer, contactless, Paypal