Jean Patou – Couturier and Visionary in the era of Flapper Girls.

by

Moving house is never a simple task especially if it involves relocating not so much from one borough to another but to an entirely new country. I’ve done this a few times now in my life, lived in many cities around the world but I have to say that I find the whole experience quite cleansing, as it fills my heart with optimism and adventure for new quests. There is however, one inevitable and utterly annoying aspect of moving house, one has no choice but to live out of boxes for as long as it takes for the custom made furniture to be made and delivered… Eight to twelve weeks! I have bedrooms brimming with boxes, a kitchen choked by cartons and I find myself constantly quoting Elizabeth Taylor, who in describing her abode in the film ‘Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf’, exclaimed “What a dump!”

It’s my own doing though and I have so many boxes because of my many holics. Yes I have more than one, after all I’m a Gemini and all of my 12 personalities has to have at least one addiction. There’s the shop-a-holic, the shoe-a-holic, antique-a-holic and my personal favourite, the book-a-holic. Though I managed to kick my habit of paperbacks a long time ago, Hardbacks Anonymous did nothing to stop my compulsive caressing of felt covered volumes and hard spines. So these take up a few… Alright, a lot of boxes and while I wait for the delivery of the bookcase that will house my precious first editions, I find myself burdened with Elizabeth Taylor’s words wondering in which box is what. Within my very own Berlin Wall of boxes there are however two books that I always know the whereabouts of. ‘Hollywood Glamor Portraits 1926-1949‘ and ‘Avedon Photographs 1947-1977′. The later contains some incredible Haute Couture dresses and of those my personal favourites are those by Patou.

Patou Henry Clarke

Patou gown photographed by  Henry Clarke

Dorian Leigh wearing Patou 1955

Dorian Leigh wearing Patou 1955

Patou By Avedon

Patou gown photographed by Richard Avedon

Some of you may instantly recognise the name Jean Patou but for those not familiar with one of the most influential designers of the 20th Century, allow me to take you back to year 1919 when after WWI had ended Jean Patou re-opened his salon at 7 Rue Saint Florentin in Paris. Soon he was to become the toast of Parisian society, known for the simplicity and elegance of his designs that not only made the woman wearing them look beautiful but were also comfortable to wear. When he opened a boutique ‘Le Coins de Sports’, where each room was devoted to a different type of sport, he cemented his place in couture history. His sports fragrance ‘Le Sien’ was the first unisex perfume, as was his idea to create perfumes for his collections. One of his perfumes ‘Joy’ is still the second most popular perfume in the world today. He was the first designer to put his initials on sweaters and being one of the first to develop the off- the-rack concept, he created a range of non-shrinking swimwear that every modern woman would desire. Jean Patou’s genius lay in creating very modern designs and trends that would be … for years to come. Not long after his success however, in 1936 Jean Patou departed this world at the age of 49 and sadly did not live to see how his genius in the modern would go on to influence a new generation of designers. Karl Lagerfeld, Christian Lacroix and Jean Paul Gaultier have all designed for the Patou label.

Special thanks to the entire Jean Patou team for sending me the amazing Jean Patou archived sketches so I can share them with the rest of the world!!!

Jean Patou Couture Sketches

Copyright Jean Patou

Jean Patou Sketches

Copyright Jean Patou

Jean Patou Sketches

Copyright Jean Patou

Jean Patou Sketches

Copyright Jean Patou

Jean Patou Sketches

Copyright Jean Patou

Jean Patou Sketches

Copyright Jean Patou

Jean Patou Sketches

Copyright Jean Patou

Copyright Jean Patou

Copyright Jean Patou

6 Responses
  • Avatar
    BrightonBel
    August 27, 2013

    Thank you I love this post! Reminds me of when I was first working in London and treated myself to a bottle of Joy! With my long winter coat and my grandmother’s fox furs I thought I was fabulous aged 18.

    B xxx

  • Avatar
    Patricia
    July 20, 2013

    Wow! Elegant, classy, sexy…Is that me in the black dress ? 😉

  • Avatar
    Josephine Lund
    July 20, 2013

    Magnificent reading! I now want to know everything about Jean Patou!

What do you think?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *