Jean-Alexandre Patou (Paris, 1887 – Paris, 1936), known as Jean Patou, was born in the French capital into a family of tanners. His father worked as a suede tanner for luxury goods and his mother was dedicated to housework.
After having been enlisted in the army, the designer became interested in the world of fashion, and trained as a furrier at the hands of his uncle, who taught him the profession.
At just 23 years old, Patou created her own haute couture firm in Paris, but soon failed due to financial difficulties. Just two years later, in 1912, the designer opened the Maison Parry, a small sewing salon located on the Champs-Elysées in Paris, which caused a stir in society at the time due to its innovative, far-from-trend designs.
A year later, a famous North American buyer visits his firm and returns to America with the complete Patou collection , which represents the consolidation of his brand and its expansion into the international market.
Thanks to the success of the North American upper classes, in 1914 the Parisian designer decided to expand his business and moved his maison to an elegant 18th century building, located near the Place de la Concorde in Paris.
His firm would be renamed Jean Patou & Cie, and when he is about to present the first collection, he has to cease his activity due to the outbreak of the First World War, in which he participates as captain of a regiment of Zouaves.
Until 1919, the date on which he returned to the city after the war, he did not relaunch his fashion business again, but this time he did it with a different perspective, since the experiences at the front give him a new way of seeing human relationships .
Thus, Patou begins to foster the spirit of teamwork and the idea of the family business, with his sister and brother-in-law as an active part of his firm. The friendship he had with former tennis champion Raymond Barbas (and also brother-in-law) made him open his sights to the world of sport, developing Suzanne Lenglen’s uniform for the Wimbledon championship in 1922, as well as different sports lines.
A wardrobe ahead of its time that was quite impressive, as the athlete put aside the long and heavy skirts, corsets and hats and appeared on the runway with a pleated white cotton skirt, a sleeveless blouse and an elastic headband of Orange. That is to say, a whole revolution in those times.
In this way, the Parisian designer began to stand alongside women and their independence, creating a more carefree and retaliatory wardrobe. Well, already in the twentieth century, a strong feminine movement began in which women began to break the established clothing norms and fight for their incorporation into the world of work.
In 1923 Patou’s brother-in-law created a division in the company dedicated to perfumery that was very successful thanks to the launch of fragrances such as Amour-amour, Que sais-je? and Adieu, dedicated respectively to blonde, brunette and redhead women.
And in 1925 his golden age came with the opening of a store in Monte Carlo, when he also began to sell made-to-measure bathrobes and bathing suits in the most luxurious spas in Deauville, Cannes and Biarritz. In 1936, at just 48 years old, Jean Patou died in his apartment in Georges V.