Paquin, Jeanne

(1869-1936)
   Born Jeanne Marie Charlotte Beckers outside of Paris, she started her career as a seamstress at the French firm Maison Rouff. In 1891, together with her banker-businessman husband, Isidore Rene Jacob, they opened the House of Paquin. The couple built one of the largest international haute couture houses of their time. The clientele included royals, actresses, and wives of American tycoons such as the Rockefellers, Vander-bilts, Wannamakers, and Astors. By 1907, its volume surpassed that of the House of Worth. However, upon the death of Isidore in 1907, Paquin operated the business with her family until her retirement in 1920. After a series of designers had been hired to continue the house, it eventually merged with the House of Worth in 1954. Two years later, Worth-Paquin closed.
   Paquin was known for her extremely artistic design sense and her creative use of color and fabric combinations. Her fashion shows were rich with theatrics. She was one of the first designers to understand fashion marketing and promotion, as was evidenced by her all-white ballet fashion show finales and her parade of tango dresses. She was the first to take her collection on tour to major cities in the United States, the precursor to today's "trunk shows." Paquin was her own muse. She wore her own designs and was the best publicist for her work. Her awards included being chosen by fellow couturiers to head the Paris Universal Exposition in 1900, the Order of Leopold II of Belgium award in 1910, the Légion d'honneur in the field of commerce in 1913, and elected president of the Chambre syndicale des couturiers in 1917. Paquin is considered the first great couturière and was the first fashion house to have foreign branches in London, Buenos Aires, Madrid, and New York.

Historical Dictionary of the Fashion Industry. .

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