Just before the haute couture fashion week began, Guillaume Henry had his first IRL show for Patou at the brand’s charming headquarters in the Île de la Cité. Over the pandemic, Patou built up its identity as a playful young Parisian brand that’s popular with influencers with a collection that was early into the celebration of exuberant oversized shapes on French themes. Well, post-isolation years, it’s as if Patou has shed its chrysalis and emerged into the sunshine in super slimmed-down body-conscious shape. Tiny mini shifts, hourglass curve-clinging dresses, sexy high waisted bootcuts, little cropped tops. The voluminous flounces had more or less flounced out. And there was Julia Fox, beig THE moment of the spring-summer 2023 presentation. The fact that she topped off the show in a body-dress with an Art Nouveau print is an indication, perhaps, of how far the perception of this brand has penetrated. But Henry always said that his main way of designing is listening to what his coworkers and girlfriends say, clocking who they admire, who they’re talking about, and observing what they’re actually wearing on a daily basis. Which brought him around to the idea of muses – a classification which Fox has redefined in 2022. In Henry’s mind, it was deeper than that – considering that muse culture has very high art French roots. He found photos of young women students carving clay maquettes at the Beaux Arts school in the late 19th century, the time of the Belle Epoque and Toulouse Lautrec, and of female stage and cabaret performers. He wanted to capture something of that in a self-directed way for the worlds young women are inhabiting these days. Well, the collection hardly translated that message, and I honestly missed Henry’s exuberant take on the contemporary Patou wardrobe he has shown us in the previous seasons.
Collage by Edward Kanarecki.