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Jeanne Lanvin, Milliner

the story of Lanvin began in 1889, at a small hat shop in the heart of Paris

Jeanne Lanvin had just turned 22 and finished her apprenticeship when she opened her first hat shop in 1889 on the mezzanine of 16 rue Boissy d’Anglas. Even at that young age, the milliner was already enchanting with her talent.

Four years later, Jeanne Lanvin’s crowning point came. She obtained a commercial lease on the prestigious rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré and established her eponymous fashion house. Her success was instant and Parisians would flock to “Lanvin (Mademoiselle Jeanne) Modes.”

Portrait de Jeanne Lanvin
Maison de couture Jeanne Lanvin

Portrait of Jeanne Lanvin, circa 1900
© DR

Jeanne Lanvin’s fashion house. Paris, 22 rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré.
© Studio Lipnitzki / Roger-Viollet

the woman and the child

The birth of her daughter Marguerite in 1897 turned Jeanne Lanvin’s world upside down. “By first dazzling her daughter, little by little, she will dazzle the world,” Louise de Vilmorin would then write.

Jeanne Lanvin, le comte Di Pietro et leur fille Marguerite Marguerite et son arrière-grand-père Firmin

Jeanne Lanvin, Count Di Pietro, and their daughter Marguerite © DR
Marguerite and her great-grandfather Firmin © DR

A tightly-bound relationship formed between Jeanne and her daughter. Marguerite became her muse and Jeanne would use luxurious fabrics to design her daughter the wardrobe of every little girl’s dreams. The elegant Marguerite was quickly noticed by her friends’ mothers, who in turn became customers of the Lanvin fashion house.

Faced with this new success, and as a savvy businesswoman, Jeanne Lanvin opened a children’s clothing department in 1908 and devoted an entire section of her store to this new thriving business.

By first dazzling her daughter, little by little, she will dazzle the world

Louise de vilmorin

Modèle pour enfant 1
Modèle pour enfant 2
Modèle pour enfant 3

Children’s designs. Gouache designs, 1926, 1924, and 1911
© Patrimoine Lanvin

Jeanne lanvin, designer

In 1909, orders for children’s clothing began to exceed those for hats. Jeanne Lanvin felt like it was time for her fashion house to enter into a new era.

Jeanne Lanvin drapant un tissu sur un mannequin

Jeanne Lanvin draping fabric on a mannequin, circa 1936
© Laure Albin Guillot / Roger-Viollet

In 1909, Jeanne Lanvin opened a Young Ladies’ and Women’s department. Mothers and daughters would come and choose their Lanvin-brand outfits together. Day clothes, evening dresses, coats, and lingerie: Lanvin’s creations enthralled Paris.

Ambitious and determined, Jeanne Lanvin became a member of the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture (the Parisian Fashion Council) that same year, and thus switched her status from milliner to designer.

Both a mother and businesswoman, Jeanne Lanvin was reserved and distant from social events, and was out of place in the elite circle of Parisian couture.

the lanvin way of life

Jeanne Lanvin had an innate business sense, but she was also a visionary. In 1913, she realized that the success of a fashion house didn’t just lie in its creations.

Chaise crosse

Crosier chair, Lanvin Decor, circa 1920
© Patrimoine Lanvin

Jeanne Lanvin opened a Furs department in 1913 and began to offer a never-before-seen service to her clients: the option to keep their furs in reserve for the summer. But she wasn’t about to stop at their wardrobe.

During an event thrown by fashion designer Paul Poiret in 1920, Jeanne Lanvin met renowned architect-decorator Armand-Albert Rateau, who had just graduated from the famous École Boulle. Together they decided to create a pavilion dedicated to the art of living at 15 rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré. The store offered furniture, rugs, curtains, stained glass, wallpaper, and more in the purest Art Deco style of the era.

When seaside resorts became the in vogue summer destination for the Parisian upper crust, the trend did not escape Jeanne Lanvin. In 1923, she opened the Lanvin Sport department, offering a casual daytime wardrobe made of comfortable materials suited to new pastimes. She designed outfits for swimming, horseback riding, tennis, and even winter sports.

Whether in Paris, Deauville, or Biarritz, Jeanne Lanvin’s shops were never empty. During the Roaring Twenties, the Lanvin fashion house was met with a success that lived up to all of the designer’s ambitions, with 23 ateliers and nearly 800 employees.

Modèle Sport Boutique Lanvin Biarritz

Sport design, Winter 1928. Gouache design © Patrimoine Lanvin

Lanvin shop in Biarritz, circa 1925 © E.Mathieu / DR

lanvin and the world

Being one of the most respected Parisian fashion houses was not enough for Jeanne Lanvin who set off to conquer the world in 1915.

San Francisco International Exposition Despite the war, Lanvin participated in the 1915 International Exposition in San Francisco. Thirteen French fashion houses, including Paquin, Doucet, Callot Sœurs, and Worth, represented the rise of haute couture and its international influence. The success of this exposition allowed Jeanne Lanvin to establish herself in the United States on a longterm basis.

Modèle Arts Décoratifs 1 Modèle Arts Décoratifs 2
Modèle Arts Décoratifs 3 Modèle Arts Décoratifs 4

Designs present at the Exhibition of Decorative Arts, Paris, 1925
Gouache designs © Patrimoine Lanvin

Paris International Exhibition of Decorative Arts In 1925, Paris was the center of the artistic world and played host to the International Exhibition of Decorative Arts. It was a golden opportunity for Jeanne Lanvin, vice-president of the Pavilion of Elegance, who was tasked with representing couture and the excellence of French tradition.

Lanvin fashion show on the SS Normandie The Normandie ocean liner represented the height of French refinement and luxury. In 1935, during its maiden voyage to New York, Jeanne Lanvin held a show with a few pieces from her collection, thus taking advantage of remarkable media exposure.

Défilé Normandie

Lanvin show on the Normandie ocean liner, 1935
© Roger Schall

Modèle Normandie 1 Modèle Normandie 2 Modèle Normandie 3

Designs present during the Lanvin show on the Normandie ocean liner, 1935
Gouache designs, © Patrimoine Lanvin

Exposition of Art and Technology in Modern Life During the International Exposition held in Paris in 1937, Jeanne Lanvin displayed her most beautiful creations in order to highlight the expertise and technical prowess of the Lanvin ateliers.

Exposition universelle Modèles présentés à l'exposition universelle

Designs present at the International Exposition, Paris, 1937
Gouache design
© Patrimoine Lanvin

Golden Gate International Exposition Modèles présentés à l'exposition internationale du Golden Gate

Design presented at the Golden Gate International Exposition,
San Francisco 1939 Gouache design © Patrimoine Lanvin

Golden Gate International Exposition The Golden Gate exposition, held in San Francisco in 1939, celebrated the opening of the Bay Bridge and the Golden Gate Bridge. On this occasion, Jeanne Lanvin displayed her creation “My Fair Lady,” a dress made of white organdy ribbons mounted on tulle. At the time, this feat highlighted the precision of the cut and the exactness and fineness of the workshops’ execution.

The Théâtre de la Mode At the beginning of 1945, haute couture was threatened by the relocation of its center to Berlin. At 78 years old, Jeanne Lanvin was one of the first to rally around the initiative of Lucien Lelong, president of the Parisian Fashion Council. Directed by Christian Bérard, the Théâtre de la Mode—or “Theater of Fashion”—toured the world in order to celebrate French expertise with miniature mannequins dressed by the biggest Parisian fashion houses.

Lanvin perfumes

in 1924, lanvin perfumes set up shop at 4 rond-point des champs-élysées. for the former milliner, it was obvious: perfume was an essential accessory on a woman’s dressing table.

Flacon boule noire

Black ball perfume bottle, 1925
© Patrimoine Lanvin

Eau mixte de Lanvin

Lanvin eau mixte, 1933
© Patrimoine Lanvin

The first success was American. The perfume My Sin, formulated by Maria Zède, stood out from the time it was launched in the United States in 1925. It wasn’t until 1927 that a legendary fragrance was born in France: Arpège.

For her 30th birthday, Jeanne Lanvin wanted to give Marguerite, who by then had become Marie-Blanche de Polignac, a unique perfume developed by renowned perfumer André Fraysse. When Marie-Blanche smelled this composition for the first time, featuring notes of Bulgarian rose, Grasse jasmine, honeysuckle, and lily of the valley, she exclaimed: “It’s like an arpeggio.” It was a complete success, and Arpège became the ultimate symbol of Jeanne’s love for her daughter.

In 1933, true to her pioneering spirit, Jeanne Lanvin launched the very first “eau mixte”: L’eau de Lanvin.

Learn more about Lanvin perfumes
Etui à échantillons de parfums Lanvin

Case of Lanvin perfume samples, around 1940
© Patrimoine Lanvin

Lanvin men

nothing escaped jeanne lanvin’s discernment, who became the first parisian designer to launch a made-to-measure clothing line for men in 1926.

Veste sur-mesure Lanvin Homme

Lanvin Men’s made-to-measure jacket, embroidered initials.
© Lanvin / Mélanie Rey

When Lanvin Tailor-Shirtmaker took up residence at 15 rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, it was the only place in Paris that offered both Men’s and Women’s collections. Suits, ties, pajamas, day clothes, and sports attire: to satisfy her male clientèle, Jeanne Lanvin called upon three great French tailors and entrusted the department’s management to her nephew Maurice Lanvin.

Lanvin after Jeanne

On July 6, 1946, Jeanne Lanvin passed away peacefully at the age of 79. Jeanne—the milliner, the designer, the decorator, the perfume manufacturer, “Madame” as her staff called her—left behind an empire in her wake.

After Jeanne Lanvin passed away, her daughter Marie-Blanche became president of the company and continued to design collections until 1950. Several designers succeeded her with the ambition of keeping the brand’s expertise, state of mind, and excellence intact.

Talented figures such as Claude Montana, Dominique Morlotti, and Alber Elbaz have helped assure that Lanvin’s style lasts throughout the ages, making Lanvin the oldest French fashion house in operation.

Marie-Blanche de Polignac

Marie-Blanche de Polignac, circa 1946
© DR / Patrimoine Lanvin

Artistic Directors
Bruno Sialelli
Bruno Sialelli
Bruno Sialelli, le plus jeune directeur artistique jamais nommé à la tête de la Maison, insuffle à l’héritage de Lanvin une nouvelle dynamique, un esprit ludique qui prend vie grâce à un savoir-faire raffiné.
Olivier Lapidus
Olivier Lapidus
Olivier Lapidus explores the innate femininity of each woman through the timelessness of the Jeanne Lanvin style. His Lanvin woman is a woman always in sharp contrasts, contemporary but still expecting to feel unique.
Bouchra Jarrar
Bouchra Jarrar
Romantic, poetic, and with a masculine touch, the Lanvin woman—as perceived by Bouchra Jarrar—comes dressed in white, black, and ivory.
Alber Elbaz
Alber Elbaz
The arrival of Alber Elbaz in 2002 ushered Lanvin into an era of prosperous poetry marked by brightly-colored feminine creations and cocktail dresses full of imagination.
Ocimar Versolato
Ocimar Versolato
At the head of Lanvin collections, Brazilian designer Ocimar Versolato revealed his virtuosity in the art of bias cuts with sensual, feminine evening dresses.
Dominique Morlotti
Dominique Morlotti
In charge of the Men’s and Women’s collections, Dominique Morlotti launched the masculine-feminine style at Lanvin with the “Il Pour Elle” line and incorporated tuxedos and pant suits into women’s wardrobes.
Claude Montana
Claude Montana
An iconic designer during the 80s, Claude Montana described his two Dés d’Or, which he won for his haute couture collections with Lanvin, as a “culmination.” With his volumes, cuts, embroideries, and couture spirit, his five collections for the brand made a lasting impression.
Maryll Lanvin
Maryll Lanvin
Fascinated with Czarist Russia and the delicateness of flowers, Maryll Lanvin, heir to Jeanne Lanvin through marriage, speckled her refined fashion with a particularly feminine line.
Jules François Crahay
Jules François Crahay
With orientalism, folkloric prints, and vibrant colors, Jules François Crahay’s ethnic fashion was rewarded with three Dés d’Or.
Antonio Canovas del Castillo
Antonio Canovas del Castillo
Over the course of more than ten years, Antonio Canovas del Castillo composed a feminine, elegant style with a New-Look spirit, marked by remarkable work in sizes, volumes, and cuts.