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Friday, May 9


I picked this dress up at the last flea market I attended before leaving Paris.  I'm not normally into butterflies, but the silk fabric, interesting cut and a slight echo of Valentino's Fall 2014 collection made me look twice. It's a Jean Patou dress and I'm embarrassed to admit that I knew little of this magnate of French fashion before the intriguing label drove me to delve deeper:

Jean Patou was the chief rival of Coco Chanel and to this day his perfume Joy is among the few in echelon with her Number 5.  The only son of a prosperous Normandy family, Patou rejected the family trade  of leather tanning and fabric production. Instead, he moved to Paris in 1910 at the age of 20 to become a couturier.  He opened his first shop in 1912 and, after serving as a captain in WW I, continued designing until his untimely death in 1936.

Patou, disgusted by the short, boxy and often unflattering flapper look (promoted by Chanel), created a sensation in the late 20's by lengthening skirts and raising the waistline for a long and elegant look.  He was know for popularizing the cardigan, introducing knitted swim and sportswear, and generally promoting comfortable yet chic clothing.  The design reigns of his house have been held by Karl Lagerfeld (1960-63), Jean-Paul Gauthier (1971-73) and Christian Lacroix(1981-87).  Lacroix closed the House of Jean Patou, leaving to design under his own name.  The perfume brand continues to this day.

Here is a selection of looks from Valention's Fall 2014 collection.  It's not so much the butterflies that got me excited, but rather the simple shapes and sack dresses.  

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