Jeanne Lanvin (1867-1946) French
At age 23, Jeanne Lanvin began working as a milliner, having apprenticed in the trade since age thirteen. In 1909, she joined the Syndicat de la Couture*, the union authorized to determine the requirements of haute couture. With this move, she was now officially considered a couturiere and the House of Lanvin came into existence. Lanvin was noted for a youthful quality, preferring to use plain fabrics that were then decorated by staff in the machine embroidery department. Many designs were romantic party dresses of organdy or broderie anglaise, a type of eyelet. Playing with fashion history, she sometimes incorporated even older details, such as panniers, crinolines, and rear bustles into her designs.
Lavin became one of the only couturiers to design for the whole family, having started her career by making children’s clothing and continuing to design for them throughout her career. Menswear became its own department in 1926.
Family life, her daughter, Marguerite, and motherhood, though not normal inspirations in fashion, influenced her work immensely. In fact, she became famous for her mother-daughter ensembles even though in the 1920s, her decidedly feminine dresses contrasted with the popular styles fit for androgynous figures. She instead was known for her “robes de style”, which were dropped waistline dresses with ankle-length full skirts.
The House of Lanvin eventually grew to produce women’s sportswear, home décor, furs, children’s wear, menswear, fragrances, and lingerie.
Hollywood connection: Her clothes were worn by actresses Mary Pickford and Marlene Dietrich.
Home Sewing connection: The House of Lanvin created patterns under the Vogue’s Paris Originals series.
Her style, innovations, and influence on fashion:
- She designed romantic and theatrical items such as beaded dance dresses (flapper gowns), fantasy evening gowns with metallic embroideries, dinner pajamas, dolman-sleeved wraps, and bloomer skirts.
- Lanvin was known for her use of quilting, intricate machine embroidery, and the discreet use of sequins.
- She was a known influence on designers Schiaparelli and Balenciaga.
- The artist Paul Iribe designed the mother and daughter-styled logo that the house uses to this day.
- Along with designer Paul Poiret, Lanvin was one of the first couturiers to establish a perfume business, producing such notable fragrances as My Sin and Arpège in custom-designed Lalique containers.
- She developed a particular shade of blue, known as Lanvin blue, and eventually opened her own dye factories in 1923 to secure exclusivity of her color formulas.
- Her 1920s bedroom, designed all in Lanvin blue, by Armand Rateau has been preserved intact in the Musèe des Arts Dècoratifs in Paris.
*now known as the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture.