Patou

Jean (1880-1936). French designer. Founder of one of the great French fashion houses between the two World Wars. Patou was one of the precursors of the designer label concept, and the first house to monogram its creations and extensively propagate its perfumes and other lines derived from the couture. Born in Normandy to an important family of leather tanners, Patou began his career as an assistant to an uncle who was a fur dealer. He opened a small dressmaking shop called Maison Parry in Paris in 1912. The following year an important American buyer bought his entire collection, but the war interrupted his business. He served as a captain in the Zouave corps until 1918 when he reopened his couture workshop. His earliest collections employed the new jerseys made by Rodier in special shades of beige, green and bleu Patou, even before Chanel famously employed them in her collections. From 1922 he defined the style that would make him famous, emphasizing a casual and modern elegance that found particular expression in chic sportswear pieces like pleated kilts and cardigans. He dressed the actresses Constance Bennet and Louise Brooks, Josephine Baker and the Dolly Sisters, and aristocrats from all over Europe including the grand duchess Maria Pavlovna. Early on he understood the nature of commercializing his new designs, and opened stores in Monte Carlo, Biarritz, Deauville and Venice. These chic watering holes provided him with sales points from which to dress the most watched women of the period: his sweaters, including some famous Cubist-inspired styles, his early bathing costumes and his elegant embroidered and beaded “princess line” evening dresses, often worn with magnificent fur-trimmed capes, all defined luxury in the period. In 1925 he launched his first perfumes: his legendary fragrance Joy, which up till the end of the 20th century was still one of the century’s most expensive and best selling perfumes, was created in 1930. Like many other companies, Patou suffered the consequences of the Wall Street crash, but his business was on the way to recovery at the time of his death in 1936. The management of the house was passed on to his brother-in-law Raymond Barbas. Over the years many designers have tried their hands at reviving Patou, with greater or lesser success, including Marc Bohan and Christian Lacroix.
&Quad;Under the guidance of Jean de Mouy, assumed in 1980, the high standards of quality for all Jean Patou products – fragrance and Haute Couture fashion – have been strictly mantained. Along with Chanel and Guerlain, Patou is nowadays among the only three houses that create their perfumes by themselves. Each month the Nose provides Jean Patou’s managers with 10-20 new formulas from which new fragrances are selected.
&Quad;2002. Chiara Mastroianni is chosen as new face of Jean Patou perfumes, featuring in the international advertising campaign photographed by Peter Lindbergh.
&Quad;Created along the same lines as Patou’s Haute Couture with the same care and attention, Joy is nowadays the most expensive perfume in the world. Eau de Patou 1000 is the most recent fragrance launched by the “perfume designer” Jean Kerleo.