NEW BEGINNINGS: Guillaume Henry has created his first look for Jean Patou, and in line with the house’s legacy of dressing Hollywood stars, he chose a red carpet to unveil it.
The designer dressed Juliette Binoche in a light blue silk gown with cutout shoulders for the premiere of her film “Who You Think I Am” on Sunday night at the Berlin International Film Festival, where she is also president of the jury.
Henry and Patou chief executive officer Sophie Brocart teased an image of the French actress getting ready on their Instagram accounts on Tuesday. Henry said he was friendly with Binoche’s stylist, Jonathan Huguet, and spontaneously decided to work with the pair on a custom creation.
“We did it even though we barely have a working atelier, so it’s our first official outing, but it’s a one-off. It was an opportunity to accompany Juliette in an important moment for her, to give Patou a new lease of life and to warm up for the relaunch of the brand. There hadn’t been a Patou dress since 1987,” he told WWD.
Indeed, Henry is the first designer to head the house since Christian Lacroix’s tenure, which ended when he set up his own label in 1987, backed by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton. The luxury conglomerate is also the new owner of the Patou brand.
“This is a hint of where we’re heading with Patou,” Henry said. “It’s like a teaser, and I hope there will be several teasers before the presentation of our first collection.”
Since LVMH announced in September it had acquired the brand from London-based Designer Parfums, with plans to relaunch its dormant fashion activities, Henry and Brocart have been busy building up their teams. Henry is expected to present his first collection for the house during Paris Fashion Week in September.
With its ruched bodice and bow detail on the back of the neck, his first design harks back to the heyday of the house’s founder.
Born in 1887, Patou is considered one of the great names of couture of the Twenties and Thirties, prized for the glamour and showmanship he brought to high fashion. He opened his house in 1914, served in the First World War, and resumed business in 1919 with a Paris shop called Parry.
“Patou was said to have had affairs with American actresses in the Thirties. He was very close to Elsa Maxwell, who was influential in Hollywood, and he dressed almost all the era’s actresses, such as Jean Harlow and Louise Brooks. I was inspired by that very flattering Thirties aesthetic for this first look for Juliette Binoche,” Henry said.
The inspiration came naturally to the designer, who channeled glamorous film muses like Romy Schneider in his previous position as creative director of Nina Ricci. “There is a kind of sincere and natural connection. I myself am a film lover,” he noted.
The bow detail on the back of the dress provided another clue to how Henry is approaching the archives. “Patou was all about designing the back. That’s something I really like,” he said. “The Jean Patou back says a lot about his aesthetic.”