Jean Patou, born on September 27, 1887, in Normandy, France, was a French fashion designer and the founder of the Jean Patou brand. Born into a family of tanners, Patou moved to Paris in 1910 with the intent of becoming a couturier. In 1912, he opened a small dressmaking salon called “Maison Parry”. His work was interrupted by World War I, during which he served as a captain in the Zouaves. After the war, he reopened his couture house in 1919 and became known for his innovative designs. He is credited with eradicating the flapper look by lengthening the skirt and designing sportswear for women. He is considered the inventor of knitted swimwear and the tennis skirt. He also popularized the cardigan and moved fashion towards the natural and comfortable. Patou passed away prematurely in 1936.

Patou’s cultural impact is significant. He was one of the great innovators of the interwar years, leading the shift from the short and boxy 1920s chemise to the long and languorous gowns of the 1930s. He successfully pioneered sportif clothing for women and is credited with every time a striped V-necked sweater is pulled down over a pleated skirt, and every time real sports clothes are used as an inspiration for fashion design. His dedication to the portrayal of ordinary life decisively shaped the sensibilities of the fashion industry. His brand survived through its perfumes, the best known of which is “JOY”, a heavy floral scent that remained the costliest perfume in the world for many years. His legacy continues to influence contemporary fashion.