Patou: Polished, pretty and powerful in Samaritaine
Fashion weeks never seem to stop in Paris. On Friday morning, the day after the haute couture season ended, Patou unveiled its Fall/Winter 2023 ready-to-wear collection, and it turned out to be Guillaume Henry’s best ever for the house.
It also marked the first show by Henry outside the brand’s headquarters on Ile de la Cité. And moving the action to the top floor of the Samaritaine department store proved inspired.
Before Henry’s silhouette for Patou could be too exaggerated, voluminous and even retro. Not this season with a new elongated and dynamic silhouette, a far clearer vision and a sense of women on a mission.
The result managed to be pretty yet punchy, and you could see the models all loved wearing their looks, always a good sign.
Henry opened the show with a quintet of Venetian red total looks, leading off with a piqué satin zippered coat dress; logo golf cap; monogram caddie and logo clutch. Jaunty, youthful and very French. Big-collared leather puffers; mid-calf slit skirts; bra tops; big totes and extra-large beanies all announced a complete wardrobe for this busy Patou gal.
Driven on by a perfect soundtrack, My Hair Looks Fierce by Amanda Lepore, the cast stormed around the glass runway. Henry did add some of his big sleeves, flamenco ruffles and over-sized collars, but they amped up the mood rather than took over the look.
Off the shoulder knit dresses, denim après-ski coats cut as dresses; and some perfectly cut pleated minis all added to the upbeat sensibility.
The show included three new collabs with French brands. All of them were extremely good. Racy ski-glasses by Bollé; sexy thigh-high boots by Ernest and great shopping trollies by Caddie, one of the most ubiquitous brands in rural France.
“I didn’t grow up with fashion mags, but with details. So, I love it each time I see a woman in the street with a trolly. I immediately feel she’s cool,” laughed Henry, who grew up in a small town 100 miles east of Paris.
Backstage, the models were ecstatic, mobbing Guillaume with kisses in a mini post show shoot.
“We have been travelling to Asia and Los Angeles with Patou and there is an amazing energy. Meeting fabulous clients who love shopping for Patou. Loving Patou because its practical. So, showing in a great store to diverse fans and shoppers, whether bourgeois, snob or people just in love with our form. I say, welcome to Patou!” enthused Henry.
Though owned by LVMH, Patou is still very much a fledgling house. Filings with French tax authorities suggest loses of some €8 million in the most recent fiscal year. But relaunching a storied but sleeping French fashion brand never comes cheap. And today it felt very much like Patou is heading in the right direction.
The house opened its first three stores in Japan last year, notably in Ginza and Omotesandō; pop-ups are in the pipeline in Korea, and you could sense a rapidly growing fan base in the audience. Plus, gangs of foreign buyers had that shining look in their eyes they get when they see a lot of best sellers.
So, this show and collection felt very much like a triumph, both for Patou and for Henry.
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