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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 stock market 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 haute couture 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 Karl Lagerfeld. 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.

The above article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. From Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean_Patou   the free encyclopedia  2/2/06

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If you are interested in learning about another designer that has the first name Jean, you can read about Jean-Paul Gaultier (which happens to be another French fashion designer)

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