Guillaume Henry‘s autumn-winter 2021 collection for Patou gives me life! It’s just so, so, so fabulous. The line-up is like a voluptuous, opulent garden filled with the most beautiful flowers. It’s this kind of boldness we need especially today, even in our lockdown lives. Turquoise, orange, lilac, pink, red, yellow; vast volumes here, gigantic collars there; floral prints on ’70s-flavored tailoring. Everything had grown from the signatures that Henry has planted over the last several seasons at Patou – think French regional costume, the Provençal embroidery, the Parisian-girl suiting, the playful, jaunty accessories. Last summer’s drop of mini-florals just gave rise to an even more exaggerated blooming of silhouettes this season. Yet, as Henry demonstrated by smoothing down what appeared to be a pair of the widest leg’o’mutton sleeves ever suggested, the shape of fabric can be tweaked by the wearer just as she pleases. And what’s most exciting is that these fantastic clothes have a sustainable background behind them – something Henry has gradually implemented into the brand since his debut. “We have have reached 70% organic or recycled this season,” said Henry. “And the prices are really on-point. We’ve worked on that a lot.” A large part of his talent is considering how to make haute-looking fashion work for lots of girls with differing tastes, lives and body-types. “Patou was always about generous couture volumes. When we’re normally talking about comfort, it’s yoga pants and cocooning things. I’m so not into sportswear. So why don’t we make it comfy, with ease – and all about Patou?”He found more Patou-ness in the archives too. “We discovered these naïve, colorful, sort of flower-power prints which were made by Michel Goma in the ’70s,” he said. “In that period flowers meant freedom, too. I met him the other week – he’s 91, and he showed me everything he did back in the day. It was so full of joy.” Each look was really a pile-up of elements – turtlenecks, hand-crocheted folkloric vests, smart tailoring, detachable collars – ready to be dismantled by the customer. “It depends on the woman you are – more flamboyant or more modest, you can make it sexy, you can make it shy,” said Henry. All of it rooted in authentic, refreshed references, but also grounded in Henry’s energetic, practical empathy for what the women who surround him will wear.
“Live” collage by Edward Kanarecki.