Jean Patou was born in Normandy, France, in 1887 (some say 1880) into an affluent family that owned a fur and tanning business. Patou began working for the family business in 1907. In 1910, Patou attempted to launch a fashion business in Paris in association with a fur workshop but this first plunge into a business of his own was a failure. He tried again but sold his second business location in 1912. The money this returned helped him buy building where he would finally begin to achieve success.
Patou's efforts to establish himself were interrupted by World War I. Fighting with the elite Zouaves in the Dardanelles, Patou experienced first hand the horrors of war.
In 1919, Patou returned to Paris where his fashion business finally took hold.
As a designer, Patou became part of a generational revolution in women's clothing, creating, like Paul Poiret before him and Gabrielle Chanel his contemporary, comfortable, wearable clothes for the modern woman. Like Chanel, Patou was particularly known for his sportswear for active sports. His tennis wear and swimsuits were trend setting. Patou introduced what, today, we would call "logo wear" or "team jackets" tennis outfits with a highly visible "JP". He is also credited with introducing the first version of what, today, we would call sun tan oil.
In 1925, Jean Patou launched his first perfumes three in a single year. These were followed by additional perfumes so that, at the time of his untimely death in 1936, perfume had become a major money spinner for the House of Patou the management of which was now taken over by his sister, Madeline, and her husband, Raymond Barbas.
The business remained in the family for many years. Jean de Moüy, grant nephew of Jean Patou, became its chief in 1980. In 2001 the perfume brands were acquired by Proctor & Gamble's Prestige Beauty division.
Perfume and Perfumers
Like Lanvin and Chanel, Jean Patou's fragrances were created in-house. In 1925, when Paul Parquet's fashion business failed, taking with it his legendary Parfums de Rosine, Poiret's perfumer, Henri Alméas joined Patou and went on to create fragrances that kept the House of Patou profitable for many years after the death of its founder.
Henri Alméas (1892-1965)
In 1925, Alméas created three fragrances for Patou: Amour Amour, Que Sais-Je?, and Adieu, Sagesse. Together they told a love story the start of an affair, the questioning, and the plunge ("goodby, wisdom!")
In 1930, Alméas created a "cocktail" trio Cocktail Dry, Cocktail Bitter, and Cocktail Bitter Sweet to go with a Patou concept of turning a cocktail bar (in his shop, where the men could go to drink and hang out while their women inspected dresses) into a perfume bar.
When the Depression began to take a heavy bite out of the Patou business, Patou called upon Henri Alméas to create a "lighthouse" for his perfume business a fragrance that would act as a beacon to shine through the gloom and bring a positive light to his shop. Alméas with reservations created Joy, an incredibly costly perfume to make, then as now. While Alméas, it is said, thought that this would be the end of his career with Patou, in fact, Joy was the fragrance that would join his name with that of Patou give both names lasting fame.
Henri Giboulet (1911-1966)
Alméas was succeeded at Patou by Henri Giboulet. While his tenure at Patou was short, he managed to update Joy with his Eau de Joy. (Ironically, Giboulet is best known for his Gin Fizz, another "cocktail" perfume but one he created for Lubin.
With Jean Kerleo, the House of Patou once again inherited a legendary perfumer. 1000 was perhaps his best known fragrance for Patou which, of course, is not well known to most mall shoppers due to its expense (about $150 per ounce in the mid 1980's).
Kerleo created fragrances for Patou from 1967 until 1998 when he retired from Patou to become director of the Osmotheque, a perfume research institution dedicated to unraveling the formulae of great fragrances from the past and archiving current fragrances received by donation.
Jean Michel Duriez
Taking over from Kerleo, perfumer Jean Michael Duriez has already distinguished himself at Patou by creating Enjoy, a Joy derivative aimed at the younger women, affluent but not rich. Today, even prestige brands such as Jean Patou must court a wider base of clientele than in days of old.
Perfumes By Jean Patou
|Amour Amour (1925)||Henri Alméras|
|Que Sais-Je? (1925)||Henri Alméras|
|Adieu Sagesse (1925)||Henri Alméras|
|Chaldée (1927)||Henri Alméras|
|Huile de Chaldee (1927)||Henri Alméras||(This was a sun tanning oil)|
|Le Sien (1929)||Henri Alméras||(A unisex fragrance)|
|Moment Suprême (1929)||Henri Alméras|
|Cocktail Dry (1930)||Henri Alméras|
|Cocktail Bitter (1930)||Henri Alméras|
|Cocktail Bitter Sweet (1930)||Henri Alméras|
|Joy de Jean Patou (1930)||Henri Alméras|
|Invitation (1932)||Henri Alméras|
|Divine Folie (1933)||Henri Alméras|
|Normandie (1935)||Henri Alméras|
|Vacances (1936)||Henri Alméras|
|Colony (1938)||Henri Alméras|
|L'Heure Attendue (1946)||Henri Alméras|
|Eau de Joy (1955)||Henri Giboulet|
|Câline (1964)||Henri Giboulet|
|1000 (1972)||Jean Kerleo|
|Eau de Patou (1976)||Jean Kerleo|
|Patou pour Homme (1980)||Jean Kerleo|
|Ma Liberté (1987)||Jean Kerleo|
|Sublime (1976)||Jean Kerleo|
|Patou pour Homme Privé (1994)||Jean Kerleo|
|Voyageur (1994)||Jean Kerleo|
|Patou For Ever (1998)||Jean Kerleo|
|Un Amour de Patou (1998)||Jean Kerleo|
|Hip (2001)||Jean Michel Duriez|
|Nacre (2001)||Jean Michel Duriez|
|Enjoy (2003)||Jean Michel Duriez|
|Sira des Indes (2006)||Jean Michel Duriez|
|Pan Ame (?)||Jean Michel Duriez|
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