Rare images showing Jeanne Lanvin supervising fittings prior to unveiling her new collection to the press.

Exclusive, recently discovered images of Jeanne Lanvin provide a glimpse into the last-minute preparations for a collection in the designer’s heyday.

Inside 22 Faubourg Saint Honoré, a legendary but ever popular address, Jeanne is captured making the final adjustments to models ahead of the launch of her “Sorbier”, “Tubéreuse" or "Azalée” evening wear designs. Let’s take a peek inside her office. This is not just a dressmaking studio; it is a veritable cabinet of curiosities furnished by the famous Eugène Printz and houses her fabric library. Is that Mademoiselle Renée at her side, whose role it was to act upon Madame’s instructions?

A history-infused ballad set against the rhythmical frenzy of busy little hands in the workshop.

Today there are very few moving images left of Jeanne Lanvin who lived from 1867 to 1946. Films from the founder’s era occasionally resurface, thanks to the digitalisation of cinematic archives by companies such as INA or Gaumont-Pathé; truly fascinating discoveries to those seeking a glimpse of history.

Jeanne Lanvin was born in Paris on January 1st, 1867. The eldest in a family of eleven children, she started working at a very young age, delivering hats for a milliner located rue du Faubourg St-Honoré. In 1885, she opened her own workshop in a tiny room atop the Saint-Honoré market, before opening shop in the rue Boissy d'Anglas in 1889.

Jeanne Lanvin would perhaps have remained a milliner of some reknown, had it not been for an event that changed the course of her life - the birth of her daughter Marguerite in 1897. This very special child, future musician and wife of Jean de Polignac (who "re-named" her Marie-Blanche), was a fascinating source of inspiration for her mother. Jeanne created dresses for Marguerite's dolls, then clothes for Marguerite herself. It didn't take long before Jeanne's millinery clients began ordering clothing.

In 1909, Jeanne became a member of the Dressmaker's Union, and her fashion career took off. Her love for Marguerite (the French word for "daisy") is clearly perceptible in all Jeanne's work - from the daisy motif chosen for the decoration of her townhouse in 1920, to the creation of the perfume Arpège seven years later. The golden emblem, showing Jeanne and her daughter dressed on their way to a ball, became Lanvin's logo in 1954.

In the 1920s, the house of Lanvin grew dramatically -1,200 employees, three buildings in Paris, seven branches in France and worldwide. A dye works was created in the city of Nanterre, outside Paris. It was here that the famous Lanvin blue was created, inspired by a Fra Angelico painting with which Jeanne was smitten. At the same time, Jeanne struck up a collaboration with Armand Albert Rateau (1882-1938), which led to the creation of Lanvin Decoration.

Rateau created an entire universe for Jeanne Lanvin - the furnishings for the boutiques at 15 rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, the interior of her townhouse in the rue Barbet-de-Jouy, and the Arpège perfume bottle's elegant back sphere. Several of his creations are still displayed in Paris' Decorative Arts Museum.

Her authority and know-how made Jeanne Lanvin an important figure in fashion, and she was called on to preside over the haute couture sections at many International Exhibitions. Patron of the arts, she began a fruitful association with the theatre and the cinema in the 1920s. Among those who have worm her creations are Blanche Montel, the Dolly Sisters, Cécile Sorel, Marie Ventura, Yvonne Printemps and Arletty.

In 1938, filmmaker Sacha Guitry awarded the Legion of Honor to the "Ambassador of elegance".

Jeanne Lanvin's art is rich in historical references. Antique motifs were restyled by her embroidery workshops, while ample 18th century dresses provided inspiration for her famous "de style" dress.

After "Madame's" death in 1946, Marie-Blanche de Polignac ran the house until 1958.


Company. LANVIN

Published on November 8th, 2012

by Stylnk




Share this on