The career of Jeanne Lanvin (1867–1946) and her eponymous brand began with a millinery apprenticeship in the late 19th century. Today, Lanvin Paris is a globally revered company and is among the oldest French fashion houses still in existence. It is renowned for its exquisite and sought-after vintage evening dresses, shoes, skirts and other garments and accessories and for having dressed such high-profile celebrities as Meryl Streep, Natalie Portman, Kim Kardashian and Sienna Miller.
In 1889, when her apprenticeship came to an end, the young French designer Jeanne Lanvin opened a custom hat shop on the rue Boissy d’Anglas in Paris. Four years later, she moved her business into a much more prominent space on the rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, one of the world’s most famous luxury fashion districts. The new Maison Lanvin was big enough to display the pieces she would design for her daughter, Marguerite, who was born in 1897. The relationship between Lanvin and her daughter would be at the core of the brand, with a 1907 photograph of Jeanne and Marguerite in matching outfits inspiring the fashion house’s enduring logo.
In 1908, Lanvin launched a line of children’s clothing, one of the first such moves in high-end fashion. When mothers came in to buy the clothes, they often asked for similar designs for themselves. Lanvin decided to introduce a women’s wear line with pieces that had a youthful femininity. This would grow to encompass everyday clothing, evening dresses, coats, lingerie and furs, as well as menswear, perfume and household items. Once she became a member of the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture (Parisian Fashion Council) in 1909, her title officially switched from milliner to designer.
Along with her stylish designs, Lanvin identified the importance of brand identity through fabric colors, opening a dye factory in Nanterre, France. There the distinctive “Lanvin blue” was produced, so even if her designs were copied, the colors could never be exactly reproduced.
After Jeanne Lanvin's death, her daughter, Marguerite Marie-Blanche de Polignac, took over and a series of talented artistic directors would propel the brand through the trends of the 20th century, including Jules François Crahay, Dominique Morlotti, Alber Elbaz and, most recently, Bruno Sialelli. In 2018, Lanvin was acquired by the Fosun Fashion Group, which is now focused on celebrating Lanvin’s heritage while pushing it into a new chapter.
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