Jeanne Beckers was born in Saint Denis, France in 1869. She married Isidore Paquin (born 1862). Madame Paquin trained in dressmaking at the famous Maison Maggy Rouff.
In 1890 the Paquins opened their own Maison de Couture on the rue de la Paix, just next door to the great house of WORTH. Madame Jeanne was the designer and her husband ran the business and administration. In 1898 they opened a couture house in London, following it with others in Buenos Aires, Madrid and a special shop for furs in New York.
In 1900 Madame Paquin was chosen to organize the fashion segment of the Exposition Universelle, held in Paris.
In the 1900's Her house was welcoming and casual, not proud and haughty like Worth or other top couturiers. A Paris guidebook said "this clever and ornamental young couple follow a new system, no seclusion, no barred doors, you may be met at the door by M. Paquin himself and welcomed into their salon."
In 1910 she was the first couturier to send mannequins (models)to the races at Longchamps and Chantilly to show off her clothes. She also sent 12 girls to tour the major cities of America.
In 1911 Madame Paquin produced an album of accessories, fans, and clothing made by the fashion artists George Barbier and Paul Iribe. She also used designs of Leon Bakst and Drian, when designing her clothes. Here on the left is one of her designs drawn by George Barbier. If you want to read more about this great illustrator, click on Barbier
In 1913 Jeanne Paquin was the first women in her field to be awarded the Legion d'Honneur.
Monsieur Paquin died in 1919, and Jeanne suffered from the loss of his encouragement and guidance. She gave up her role as house designer to a lady called Mlle. Madeleine Wallis, who created the collections throughout the twenties and early 30's. She was followed by Ana de Pombo who designed for the house till 1941.
In 1936 Madame Paquin died, but her house remained open.
From 1941 to 1949, Antonio Castillo (shown here on the right) was the head designer at the house of Paquin, and brought his elegant Spanish style to the collections he did for Paquin. You can read more about him by clicking on Castillo
From 1949 till 1953, Lou Claverie was the designer, and in 1953 American designer Alan Graham took over. In 1953 the house of Paquin merged with the House of Worth, but that house also closed in 1956.
The Paquin style.
Client relations played a larger part at Paquin than any other house. A client would give her season's requirements and Madame Paquin would make everything she might need. She knew how women actually moved in their clothing, rebelling against the hobble skirt in the early part of the century. She thought of women having the battle with the Metro, when designing.
Madame Paquin had a graphic ability with vivid colours, emphasized by the use of black. She rescued black from its mournful 19th century role, lining a black town coat with bright, glossy red silk, or using it as a foil for brilliant jewel-tone embroidery or fabulous lace. She made use of exuberant colours rather than the soft pastels other designers used. Her Tango dresses and lingerie were also very popular. She was noted for her romantic gowns and fine workmanship.
Paquin also made tailored clothes. Her talent showed itself in soft pale wool felt, decorated with finely traced scrolling braids or inserts of Irish crochet lace.
The luxurious tailleurs came to be trimmed with fur, and fur became an important part of the image of the house of Paquin. Year after year, Paquin had a reputation for best selling coats and capes trimmed with collars, cuffs and hems of sable, fox, chinchilla and monkey.
Many of her gowns were a blend of drapery and tailoring, suitable for the more active woman of the 20th century.
Exhibition in Paris
From December 1989 till March 1990, an Exhibition of creations from the house of Paquin, was held in Paris which enabled a new generation to see her wonderful gowns.
French Fashion Plates in Full Color from Gazette de Bon Ton (French Fashion Magazine) by Paul Poiret, Paquin and others, drawn by Barbier and Lepape