Jean Patou (August 19, 1880 - March 8, 1936) was a French fashion designer.
Patou was born in Normandy
in 1880. Patou's family's business was in tanning and furs. Patou worked with his uncle in Normandy
, then moved to Paris
in 1910, intent on becoming a couturier.
1910s - World War I and later
In 1912 he opened a small dressmaking salon called "Maison Parry". His entire 1914 collection was purchased by a one single American buyer.Patou's work as was interrupted by World War I
. He was mobilised in August 1914, shorty after the German invasion of Belgium. Patou served as a Captain in the Zouaves
Reopening his couture house in 1919, he became known for eradicating the flapper
look by lengthening the skirt and returning introducing sportswear
for women, and is considered the inventor of the knitted swimwear and the tennis skirt
. He notably designed the then daring sleeveless and thigh-length cut tennis wear for Suzanne Lenglen
. He also was the first designer to popularize the cardigan
, and moved fashion towards the natural and comfortable
Jean Patou invented the designer tie
in the 1920s. He used women's dress material for his ties and they were displayed in department stores next to women's perfume counter. The designer tie style is still prominent amongst contemporary fashion designers, such as Louis Feraud
, Timothy Everest
and Paul Smith
In 1928, Jean Patou created "Huile de Caldee", the first sun lotion.
Patou's clothes were marketed mostly to wealthy American women.
When the stock market crashed, however, so did the market for luxury fashion. The House of Patou
survived through its perfumes
, which remain well known today.
The best known of Patou's perfumes is "Joy
," a heavy floral scent, based on the most precious rose and jasmine, that remained the costliest perfume in the world, until the House of Patou introduced "1000" (a heavy, earthy floral perfume, based on a rare osmanthus) in the late 1970s. Before Joy, the House of Patou released many other perfumes, many which were to celebrate particular events. For example, Normandie (an oriental forerunner to perfumes such as Yves Saint Laurent's Opium) celebrated the French ocean liner of the same name, and Vacances (a mixture of green and lilac notes) celebrated the first French paid national holidays. Other Patou perfumes of the same time were Amour Amour (the forerunner of Joy, using the same rose notes, but without the jasmine), Adieu Sagesse, Que Sais Je (these three were released at the same time; Patou's idea was that the light floral Que Sais Je was suitable for blondes; the tart, spicy Adieu Sagesse for redheads, and the heavy floral Amour Amour for brunettes), L'Heure Attendue (a wonderful, unique oriental perfume), Divine Folie (a floral vanilla), Caline (a wonderful chypre perfume, similar to the much later Diorling by Christian Dior), Moment Supreme (a perfume based on lavender), Colony (which had a strong pineapple note), Chaldee (Patou's Huile de Chaldee sun oil had become so popular, many customers were buying it purely for its smell, therefore, Chaldee the perfume (a dry musk) was produced), Le Sien (one of the first perfeumes for men and women), and Cocktail (literally a floral cocktail). All these, with the exception of Le Sien, were re-released during the 1980s (under the name Ma Collection), and were available until recently, all in a 50ml Eau de Toilette Spray, 75ml Eau de Toilette bottle, and 30ml pure perfume bottle, each with a unique art deco box. A Jean Patou silk scarf, printed in the same pattern as the box was included with the pure perfume. Joy remains the world's second best-selling scent (the first is Chanel No. 5
was created by Henri Alméras
for Patou at the height of the Great Depression
(1935) for Patou's former clients who could no longer afford his haute couture
Patou died in 1936. His sister Madeleine and her husband Raymond Barbas continued the House of Patou, which remained a family-owned enterprise until September 2001 when it was bought by Procter & Gamble Company
. Other designers to have been associated with this house are Jean Kerléo
and Karl Lagerfeld
. Jean Patou has continued to produce perfumes, which have included Eau de Patou, Ma Liberte, Un Amore de Patou, Sublime, Patou Forever, EnJoy, and Sira des Indes. Also two men's perfumes, Patou Pour Homme (a spicy chypre) and Voyageur (a fresh, much more modern scent) have been available. Sadly recent years have seen the discontinuation of Ma Collection, Eau de Patou, Ma Liberte, Un Amour de Patou, as well as a reduction of the products available in the Joy and "1000" ranges. It can only be hoped that one day all the Jean Patou fragrances will be available again, and that they have not been lost for ever.