Madame Jeanne Lanvin's active fashion career spanned 50 years from the 1890's up to the New Look just after World War II.
In 1867 Jeanne Lanvin was born in Brittany, France. She was the eldest of 10 children of a pair of Breton concierges. She first trained as a dressmaker at a house called Talbot and then as a milliner.
In 1890 she opened a millinery shop in the rue du Faubourg Saint-Honore. While making hats, she also made dresses for a younger sister and her daughter. Lanvin's clothes came to the attention of other mothers with daughters, who asked her to make dresses for them, so in 1909 Jeanne began making dresses for sale and her reputation grew.
As can be seen from the pictures of the clothes she made, she made no distinction between women's and children's wear, the youthfulness of both being an important aspect of 20th century fashion.
Shown above is a drawing of dresses by Jeanne Lanvin drawn by Pierre Brissard in 1914.
Demand by young women for her clothes, persuaded Jeanne Lanvin to open a couture house selling mother-daughter garments.
The Lanvin Logo Paul Iribe, the famous illustrator, created the Logo for the house of Lanvin shown here on the right, from a drawing by Jeanne of the bond between mother and daughter, shown on the left.
Her daughter became the Comtesse de Polignac, and continued to wear her mother's beautiful gowns.
In 1913 Lanvin created her famous "robes de style" based on 18th century designs. These small waisted, full skirted dresses remained popular for many years and were fore-runners of the New Look which Dior brought out just after World War II.
In 1914 influenced by orientalism, she turned to exotic evening wear in Eastern-style velvets and satins. During the 20's Lanvin made a simple Chemise dress which later became the basic outline for the twenties. Over the following years, she introduced several interesting developments. In 1921 a Riviera collection introduced Aztec embroidery. In 1922 a Breton suit appeared in the Lanvin collection. This comprised a gently gathered skirt, a short braided jacket with lots of small buttons and a big white organdy collar turning down over a red satin bow. A sailor hat topped the outfit.
In 1926 a menswear division was opened by Lanvin, and so she became the first couturier to dress whole families. Her branches were opened in Nice, Cannes and Biarritz. Jeanne Lanvin dressed film actresses like Mary Pickford, Marlene Dietrich and Yvonne Printemps in the 20's and 30's. She also had clients like the Queens of Italy and Roumania, and English princesses.
Jeanne Lanvin's Style
Her work was easily recognizable by her skilful use of embroidery, and her fine craftsmanship. She used a particular shade of blue so often, that it came to be called "Lanvin Blue".
For Jeanne Lanvin, women were meant to wear clothes of unabashed feminity, in colours that were pretty, and whose shapes had a "young girl" look. She set the mood with narrow empire-waisted dresses and long trailing sleeves.
The fabrics that she used were silk, taffeta, velvet, silk chiffon, organza, lace, tulle, etc. She used a lot of free-flowing ribbons, ruffles, flowers, lace, mirrors, etc., and liked ornamentation like applique, couching, quilting, parallel stitching, and embroidery.
The house of Lanvin, like all other houses, suffered throughout the 2nd World War, although she kept designing.
In 1946, Jeanne Lanvin died at the age of 79. Her daughter Marie-Blanche took over the running of the house, till she herself died in 1958.
dress circa 1913
I should say quite radical for this time period? Or at least quite different than what I have seen typically represented.
Hmm sounds a lot like Mr. Elbaz's design philosophy for Lanvin!
Jeanne Lanvin headed one of the premier Paris couture houses of the1910s and 1920s, even though her "pretty" dresses contrasted sharply with the slim, almost androgynous aesthetic of that period. Lanvin's designs seemed to exist in a time of their own: although modern, they were never governed by the prevailing modes.
Throughout her career, Lanvin was firm in her belief that "women were meant to wear clothes of unabashed femininity." Her work represented the survival of romantic clothing. During periods when fashion offered only a single silhouette, Lanvin always offered a feminine alternative. In the early 1920s, when skirts were slim, she championed the robe de style, inspired by eighteenth-century fashions, which featured a full skirt supported by a knee-length oval hoop petticoat. This style was associated so closely with the House of Lanvin that it is still used today on the Lanvin label.
Color was a primary concern of Lanvin's, and she maintained her own dyeworks to achieve the clear, subtle, feminine colors that she favored. This dress of clear peach taffeta is a robe de style and features Lanvin's favorite motif, the flower. This single embellishment, with blue streamers falling from its center, is echoed in the tiers of the skirt. When the donor and her sister made their debuts, they both wore this Lanvin design with the colors reversed.
Thanks so much for this thread. I never realized what the logo was before. That last black dress.....makes me think of the 80's! It's amazing how fashion can be so circular. I love the philosophy of women's and children's clothing being the same. V. interesting.
Lanvin is amazing! I got to work with one of her dresses from the 1920's yesterday and it was so beautiful....silver lace with couching and embroidery and this other fabric that i'm unsure of....what beauty though!