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Jean Patou - Created The First Designer Tie

Oct 9, 2007
The French designer Jean Patou was born on 1887 in Normandy, France. His first job was in a small dressmaking shop, Parry, before World War I. He produced his first collection in 1914. In 1919, after serving as Captain of Zouaves during the war, he returned to the fashion industry and opened his own couture house.

Patou's involvement in the evolution of sportswear is extensive, its influence, rather obvious. Clothes were made to be beautiful yet comfortable, functional and simple, with accents limited to seam linings and embroideries, as exemplified by his creation of the cardigan. He developed a fabric for swimwear that resists shrinkage and is non-colorfast. He also invented the knitted swimsuit and tennis skirt. His collection was publicized by famous names such as Wimbledon tennis star Suzanne Lenglen and American aviator Ruth Elder. Women of the 1920s started to imitate this sporty look even if they did not engage in sports.

Patou's vision of the ultimate sportswear collection was realized when he opened Le Coin des Sports, a boutique in Paris that catered to all sorts of sportswear, including accessories. He extended these shops to Deauville and Biarritz, both popular resort areas to travelers.

Patou proved to be a pioneer in ways more than one. In the 1920s, he invented designer ties made from women's dress and the famous cubist sweaters. He is accounted for the first designer label that he had sewn to his designs. He was able to produce exclusive colors through a special dyeing method so as to eradicate competitor replicas. In 1929, he raised the waistline of the skirt and brought it back to its natural hemline - a move that Chanel followed through quickly.

He traveled to the United States in 1924 where he hired six American models and brought them to France to work as mannequins. The American silhouette became a point of emulation for French women and therefore helped boost Patou's sales in addition to the extra profit that scarves, hats and accessories brought to him. It also paved the way for his fame in the American community, which was its target market, aside from a few wealthy French clients.

The House of Patou was created in 1925. It featured his perfume collection, the one element that survived it during the Great Depression when the fashion business crashed. It was in 1935, at the peak of the Depression, that the fragrance Joy was designed by Henri Almeras for Patou's former clients. The floral scent of Joy would create an indelible imprint in the fashion industry decades later.

In 1936, Patou died. His sister, Madeleine and her husband, Raymond Barbas took over the House of Patou so that it remains in family hands until now. By 1982, Parfums Patou was built in London, Milan, Geneva, Australia and Hong Kong. The year 1998 saw the rise of Jean Patou into the forefront of the fragrance industry. Aside from its own line of perfumes, the company was also made a distributor of Hubigant's Quelques Fleurs, and the developer/seller of Yohji Yamamoto's perfumes. However, it is still Joy, the world's most costly fragrance that Patou is best known for. Joy perfume gained recognition as the "Scent of the Century" in UK's Fifi Awards in 2000, outweighing long-time opponent, Chanel No.5. Following the success of Joy, the company introduced fragrances Lacoste and Nacre in 2000 and 2001, respectively.
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