Jean Patou ~ 1880-1936
Biography of Jean Patou, fashion designer
A handsome gambler in both the Casinos and the fashion world. Jean Patou was born in Normandy in the north of France. His parents were in the leather tanning trade and he briefly worked in his father's tannery.
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Jeane Patou Fashion Designer – His sister Marie played a very high profile in his life, she was 7 years younger and the principle inspiration for his work. Then he worked in his Uncle’s fur trade business and with this fur connection he decided to combine it with a dressmaking business in Paris, establishing this in 1910. This did not continue but he went on to start a second dressmaking business called Mason Parry, at the Rond Point, Paris (1912). This was a Tailleurs and it sold dresses and furs.
In 1914 Jean Patou produced his own collection, but by August the war had begun. Interrupted he joined the Zovares regiment who were the precursors of the French Foreign Legion. Upon his return in 1919 – The House of Patou was opened, showing his first Couture collection. In 1920’s – The Couture fashion was evolving into a huge autonomous industry and Patou recognized its tremendous potential, both in France and the United States. He expanded the industry by introducing sportswear and emphasizing accessories.
In 1922 – Jean Patou first visited America. In 1925 he visited there again and gained new ideas to add to his brilliant publicity expertise.
In 1925 – Jean Patou opened a boutique called ” Le Coin des Sports” on the ground floor at 7 rue Saint-Florentin, where he devoted a series of rooms for each individual sport orientated fashion design. They were also set up in Deauville and Biarritz with accents on bathing suits. He collaborated with textile mills introducing non-shrinkage swimsuits in clever exclusive colours through thread-dyeing methods, eliminating exact copies by other lesser competitors. He added co-ordinating skirts, scarves, hats and other accessories greatly increasing his overall business. Also in 1925 he commenced his first perfumes.
1929 – A Jean Patou design for a dark green coat with matching fur collar and muff. This drawing is by Artist: Benigni.
Patou & Colour. In 1930 it was reported in America about Patou’s superstition for this latest colour. Quote – ” Patou, having given first place to black, selects a deep yellow-green to promote. The yellow in this green is important, knowing that a great many women regard green with a superstitious eye, he consulted certain eminent CHIROMANCERS (Palm readers)! to ascertain that his particular shade of green was – due to it’s yellow cast – protected by HAPPY “ASTRAL INFLUENCES” from the bane (bad luck), that is said to follow many greens!” He must have believed in past legends concerning the supernatural. Another colour prominent in Patou’s creations was a putty grey – beige tone. (August 1930). Jean Patou was greatly supported by his family and friends throughout his life. His sister married Raymond Barbas who upon Jean’s death in 1936 took over the family business, which continued on down this family line passing to the grandson, Jean de Mouy who was the President. 1937- Artist: Christian Berard.
1938 – Raymond Barbas report from a fashion journal.
Looking back on a family photo of Jean Patou on his boat awash with sea spray. This report was published in a fashion journal in 1938.
1938 -A smart dark blue cape suit.
1938 Purple dress with frills, and text description.
1939 – An impressive evening gown using the check design of the material cut on the cross in the colours of blue and white, for the skirt.
A fabulous dark green suit with silver buttons, drawn in 1939 and printed in 1940. French Suit text description. 1946 – Artist: Rene Gruau. A painting with fashion and art in mind.
1948 – Perfume by the House of Jean Patou.
1956 – The House of Patou designs a Wedding gown.
Two coolie straw shaped hats in the photos below they are fabulous with these fine wool separates. Really stunning! 1962 – brought elegant and practical smart clothes.
The Fashion House of PATOU carries on! A three quarter length jacket & skirt – (L’ensemble trois-quarts), which was indispensable for the feminine wardrobe in 1962!
A long evening – scintilating irridescent gown with decorative bands completing the effect with long white gloves. This design would be stunning for wearing today!
The House of Jean Patou created perfumes, which remain popular today, the most famous being JOY which was created in 1931. This perfume was voted SCENT OF THE CENTURY” in 2000 – beating such rivals as Chanel No 5 and Anais Anais.
Elsa Maxwell well known in the Paris Cafe Society referred to Patou as “having more animal magnetism than anyone she ever met” and she worked with him to perfect the perfume JOY and to ensure proper attendance at his couture shows.
He is renowned to be one of the great Couturiers who most embodied the spiriit of the 1920’s style. Described as ~ tall, dark, dashing and racy, an active sportsman playing tennis, racing automobiles, dining, dancing and gambling.
New Find 2016 – A detailed photo portrait of Robert Barbas who took over the Fashion House in 1936. These images were found in the Fashion Journal publication 1939 and are a historical archive.
Designs by Ramond Barbas