Monday, February 15, 2016

Chez Patou

With Paris Fashion Week quickly approaching, it seemed fitting to take a step back in time- specifically, the late 1920s- to see how the late couturier, Jean Patou, lived. Although perhaps not as well-remembered today as his rival, Coco Chanel, Patou was one of the leading couturiers of the Twenties.  An early advocate of sportswear, Patou gained a following that included some of that decade's most stylish women, including tennis great Suzanne Lenglen and Lady Diana Cooper.  A savvy businessman with a nose for marketing, Patou cut quite a dashing figure throughout Paris, earning a reputation as a stylish man-about-town.  It was to be expected that the couturier would choose to live in surroundings that were just as chic as the image he projected.

It was during World War I, when serving as a captain in the French army, that Patou met two fellow officers who, according to design historian Stephen Calloway, had a profound influence on the young couturier's burgeoning style. One soldier was Bernard Boutet de Monvel, the artist and aesthete, while the other was architect and decorator Louis Süe, who, after the war, formed a design partnership with André Mare. In post-World-War-I France, Süe et Mare were two of France's most fashionable interior decorators, assembling a coterie of sophisticated clients seeking their sumptuous brand of chic. One of those prominent clients was Patou, who enlisted Süe et Mare to decorate his 16th arrondissement hôtel particulier, which can be seen in these late-1920s photos.

What strikes me about these interiors is the designers' meticulous attention to detail- specifically, the way in which the decorative details worked together to form a seamless, stylish whole.  Patou's house was not a random, careless assemblage of fashionable furnishings.  Rather, each carefully-considered finish, fabric, and piece of furniture played an important role in creating what was ultimately a smooth-as-silk backdrop for living.  And for all of the home's high-style, Art Deco-inspired décor, these interiors strike a cultured note, too.  These are civilized rooms, most especially the bar.  (Yes, bars can be civilized, something which, unfortunately, few of today's homeowners with at-home bars seem to understand.)

Scattered among these archival photos are images of some of Patou's fashions, further proof that Patou's house was just as modish as the House of Patou.

Image at top: Jean Patou in his study.

Patou's Süe et Mare-decorated living room.

One area of the living room was designated for music. Like most of the home's furnishings, the piano was designed by Süe et Mare.

The dining room, which had yellow walls topped by brown stucco molding.

The bar, which opened onto a garden.  The chairs were designed by Süe et Mare.

The mahogany-paneled study.  Mare was responsible for the alcove, which was lined in damask.

The staircase that led up to the second floor.  The intricate metal banister was designed by Richard Desvallières.

Patou's bath. The walls and tub were faced in marble, while the patterned floor was blue, gold, and white.


  1. Epitome of chic. The fabrics, the tailoring are exquisite. thanks. Mary

  2. love him + Patou is a genius

  3. The clothes would look smashing today! Lady Mary on Downton Abbey would wear them well! I love the study, the stair railing and the bath - so chic.

  4. I'm impressed by both the home and the clothing. Patou was way ahead of his time--his styles, as his home, are timeless. Look at the slacks for women! He should be much more reknown. I'd say his influence was just as important as Chanel's. Thank you for posting!

  5. Thank you for this post. Sublime.

  6. Patou has never been given his well deserved due. His clothes, his fragrances and his home just whisper elegance and restraint. Divine. Wonderful post!

  7. Just stunning, saving this one. Way ahead of his time. Thank you.

  8. Anonymous12:41 PM

    Wonderful posting!

    Just to add to his list of accomplishments: the iconic "Joy" perfume .... and its classic bottle ....

    Also ... for fun ... do check the listings on Etsy under the search for his name!

    Jan at Rosemary Cottage

  9. Anonymous7:44 PM

    I didn't know that there were "undermounted" sinks and tubs back in the day! Thank you for sharing everything here.