French couture house established by Jean Patou (shown above left). Patou worked in his family's tannery business before moving to Paris, where he eventually set up a fashion house under the name Maison Parry. The business did not do well, but after serving in WWI, Patou returned to Paris in 1919 and started again with a house under his own name — this time, the house flourished. Patou was known for his couture, but also for his casual clothing, which like that of his contemporary (and rival) Chanel was relaxed but elegant.1 Patou is credited with the introduction of the modern tennis skirt and the knit bathing suit, and he was reportedly the first designer to use a monogrammed logo on his designs. Patou passed away in 1936.
Fragrances were introduced in 1925 with Amour Amour, Que Sais-je? and Adieu, Sagesse. All three were by perfumer Henri Alméras. Le Sien, a sports fragrance introduced in 1929, is often called the first modern unisex scent.
Alméras also created Joy (1930), the iconic fragrance for which the house is best known today. In spite of the then very recent stock market crash, it was publicized as "the costliest perfume in the world" and was a huge success. 1930 also saw the introduction of the Patou "perfume bar", at which customers could have essential oils added to one of three base perfumes to create a semi-bespoke fragrance.
Many of the early Patou fragrances were relaunched in the 1980s under the name Ma Collection.
In 2013, a new series of reissues began under the name Collection Héritage, starting with Patou pour Homme (1980), Chaldée (1927) and Eau de Patou (1976). Deux Amours, Que Sais-je? and Adieu Sagesse (all 1925) followed in 2014, then Colony, Vacances (both 1938) and L’Heure Attendue (1946) in 2015.
The modern Jean Patou fragrance house
Jean Kerléo joined Patou as house perfumer in 1967 and remained until 1998. Fragrances under his direction include 1000 (1972), Ma Liberté (1987) and Sublime (1992). He was succeeded by Jean Michel Duriez, who created Un Amour de Patou (1998), Enjoy (2003), among others.
The Jean Patou fragrance business was owned by Procter & Gamble since 2001; in 2011 P&G sold Patou to Designer Parfums, and Thomas Fontaine became the house perfumer.
Recent fragrance releases from Jean Patou
Where to buy
Jean Patou fragrances can be found at department stores and online fragrance discounters.
See all articles on Now Smell This tagged Jean Patou.
1. Karl Lagerfeld was once quoted as saying "...many of the things for which Chanel gets credit were actually developed by Jean Patou". The Impact Of Chanel; On Cable, a Reign Recalled at The Washington Post, 7/25/1989.