Evening dress, Patou

Evening dress, Patou

Evening dress
Jean Patou
1925-26
Museum no. T.198-1970
Given by Lord and Lady Cowdray

This sleeveless dress has a low square neckline, which was popular in the mid 1920s. Its straight bodice is embroidered with a design that reveals the influence of Egyptian patterns. Jean Patou (1880-1936) was born in Normandy, France, the son of a tanner. His uncle owned a fur business, which Patou joined. In 1914 he opened a small dressmaking business, Maison Parry, in Paris and sold his entire opening collection to an American buyer. His career was interrupted by the First World War of 1914-1918, but in 1919 he reopened his salon, this time under his own name. His collections continued to be a great success.

Along with 'Coco' Chanel, Patou was considered a leading exponent of the 'garçon' look, creating smart, workmanlike and well-tailored clothes. Throughout the 1920s he also consistently championed the shorter length of skirt that did much to stimulate the demand for stockings.