Jean Patou (Paris, 1880-1936) was
a French fashion designer. Born in Normanie,
France, in 1880, he opened his couture house
in 1919. Known as the designer who did away
with the flapper look, by lengthening the
skirt and returning to a natural waistline.
A revolutionary, Patou is credited with
introducing sportswear for women, and is
considered the inventor of the knitted swimwear
and the tennis skirt, and was the first
designer to popularize the cardigan, moving
fashion towards the natural and comfortable.
Patou's clothes were marketed mostly to
wealthy American women; when the
crashed, so did the market for luxury fashion.
The House of Patou survived through its
perfumes, and today Jean Patou's perfumes
continue to be a force to be reckoned with
in the industry.
The best known of Patou's
perfumes is "Joy," a floral scent;
another is "Sublime," which combines
floral and musky tones. The world's second
best-selling scent (the first is
Chanel No. 5), Joy was created by Henri
Almras for Patou at the height of the Depression
(1935) for Patou's former clients who could
no longer afford his Parisian
clothes. Upon its introduction, Joy was
called "the world's most expensive
perfume" by American socialite
Elsa Maxwell, and remain two to three
times the cost of most department store
scents. Joy's high cost comes from its use
of rare florals; each ounce is purported
to contain the essence of ten thousand flowers
including Bulgarian roses and Grasse
jasmine, as well as
Michelia champaca alba.
Patou died in 1936, his sister and her
husband, the Barbas continued the House
of Patou. Other designers to have been associated
with this house are Jean Kerlo and
Kerlo was chief perfumer for over 30 years and
is now director of the
Perfume Museum of Versailles.
The Patou perfume license is now owned
by Proctor & Gamble Prestige Beaut, which
remains faithful to the Jean Patou tradition
of extravagant fragrances made with extravagant
ingredients, so much so that Joy remains
one of the most costly perfumes (per ounce)
in the world.