Patou Resort 2021

6 months ago 5
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“At Patou, we deliver winter in winter, spring in spring, like vegetables or fruit in the market.” Guillaume Henry has a delectable way of combining the French vernacular of down-to-earth, traditional work with flights of fashion fancy. His resort collection is beginning to drop now. Part of it was inspired by looking at vintage photographs of Les Forts des Halles, the porters at the old Les Halles market in the center of Paris, who used to wear felt hats to carry crates of farm produce. That’s where the oversized, turned-back-brim hats in his collection originated; one of his charming side strategies for keeping French regional working-class culture alive and relevant for a new generation.

It’s cold right now in the northern hemisphere. Just time, perhaps, for one of his oversized, cocooning duffle coats. Perfect for lockdown walks and hikes, they have huge hoods against the weather, and come fastened with a set of big wooden toggles, which are actually bird whistles of the sort used in the French countryside. Purpose and playfulness, all nicely wrapped up in one cozy coat.

Henry’s talent for the current art of exaggeration in fashion—the kind of puffed-up, smock-y, flippy silhouettes made to jump out on an Instagram page—is all over this collection. That, and his knack for taking a detail and making it a signature, such as the unmissable white lace Provençal-influenced collar, which has grown even bigger since last season (an accessory pragmatically designed to be laundered, just begging to be gifted to someone).

Kudos, anyway, to the Patou people for pulling off this collection, which was managed during the most severe days of lockdown in Paris. “Everyone was at home, exchanging ideas on Zoom,” Henry says. “My magic team!” The look book models are the Belgian singer Tessa Dixon and some of the Patou team. What they’ve come up with—despite it all—is a continuation of the optimism and joie de vivre of the house, grounded in that French-girl taste for useful, classic tailoring. The gold brocade dress, the feather-trimmed trousers, and the multicolored, stylized ’70s prints must have felt like a shot in the dark when they were designing them—for who among us could project forward into a party-time-to-come a few months ago? But love them, they raised their spirits, and voted for hope anyway.

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