Jean Patou (1880 – 1936) was a French Fashion Designer. Patou entered the fashion trade in 1907, working for an uncle who was a furrier. Between 1910 and 1912, he opened several dressmaking establishments but did not sell under his name until 1919. The publicity generated by Chanel largely overshadowed him, and the talent of Patou has often been overlooked — although he was equally responsible for creating the Garconne Look in 1925.
One of Patou’s most famous customers was the French tennis champion Suzanne Lenglen, whom he dressed both on and off the court. This lean and active young woman epitomised the 1920s “new woman.” She created a furore in 1921 when she wore Patou’s knee-length pleated skirt, which revealed much of her legs when she ran. The headband she wore while playing tennis was widely copied by women throughout the 1920s for day and evening wear.
Patou was early in recognising the kudos associated with a top designer’s name and was possibly the first, in 1922, to use monograms on garments. He was also famous for incorporating contemporary painting styles to embellish his fashions. His sweaters and bathing suits, decorated with bright Cubist images, have been much copied to the present day.
Patou was both the creator and destroyer of the Garconne Look. In 1929 he unexpectedly lengthened his dresses, returned the waist to its natural position and emphasised the bust, paving the way for the more fluid fashions of the 1930s.
The house of Patou has remained open under the direction of various top designers, including Marc Bohan, Karl Lagerfeld and Christian Lacroix.
Dormer, P. (1991). The illustrated dictionary of twentieth century designers: The key personalities in Design and the applied arts. Mallard Press.