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Accessible luxury maison Patou lands in Australia, bringing us joyful dressing

WORDS BY GIULIA BRUGLIERA

Bringing joyful back.

If you needed a little good news this morning, here we have it. Luxury Parisian maison Patou has just celebrated its entry into Australia.

Its arrival in Australia is a noteworthy step, not only because it marks the local addition of a new luxury label, but because the Australian arrival comes ahead of any foray into larger markets, like China or the US.

It’s an unexpected choice for a luxury fashion house rooted in couture, but once you get to know the label, it makes pretty perfect sense.

Patou describes itself as ‘friendly couture’. Its designs are playful, adventurous, yet still highly wearable; injecting the fun back into fashion that we sorely need right now. It’s a decidedly more approachable take on luxury fashion, which I guess echoes the way Australians dress – slightly undone, not so serious.

All this means that if you’re only vaguely (or not at all) familiar with the brand, it’s worth getting acquainted.

The first point to note is that Patou is a maison with pretty significant clout.

Couturier Jean Patou opened the maison in 1914, crafting works that rivalled his contemporaries, including Jeanne Lanvin and Gabrielle Chanel. He wanted to free women from the restrictive clothing imposed on them, and crafted dresses without corsets, shortened skirts and launched a sports line designed to be worn in town – a little like the 1914 equivalent of activewear.

After Jean passed in 1936, the maison lost its glimmer. Yet it still continued in operation until 2018, when LVMH acquired the brand, appointing Guillaume Henry (Carven, Nina Ricci) as creative director.

Last November, the house firmly entered the luxury arena, opening its e-commerce wing with the launch of its first collection. But instead of getting caught up in the prestige of its century-old history, the label re-entered the market with a focus on the authentic and real.

Take, for example, its campaigns. Rather than models, all the women across Patou’s visuals are real people who have inspired Guillaume, including members of the Patou team. It still operates as a start-up with only 30 people across the company, including the atelier, design and marketing. 

The maison also takes a real and transparent approach to sustainability. Rather than preach sustainable production through an opaque screen, the brand is upfront and honest about where it’s at in the journey. Each garment has a QR code on the label which redirects to the Patou website, revealing the factory where the garment was produced and featuring an interview of a worker in that factory. Over half of Patou’s collections are made with eco-conscious fabrics (including organic cotton and recycled wool and denim), and its packaging features 100% recycled paper and organic cotton garment bags.

Patou offers a relaxed and fun approach to luxury design, which is perhaps why it’s forecasted to slot into our market so well, despite having arguably one of the greatest (and relatively unknown) histories in all the fashion industry.

Regardless, we’re excited for it.

patou.com

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