The History of The House of Lanvin

Over 133 years old, Lanvin is one of the oldest, most luxurious and continues to be one of the most relevant labels in the world. Join us as we go through the history and heritage of Lanvin from its beginnings to its place in the contemporary world. 

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Jeanne Lanvin

Jeanne Lanvin was born in Paris on the 1st of January 1867. At 13 years old, Jeanne earned her first paycheck working for a milliner on Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré street in Paris. Hardworking and skilful, she quickly worked herself up the ladder and eventually became a milliner’s apprentice. By the age of 22, she started her very own little hat shop, monikered ‘Lanvin (Mademoiselle Jeanne) Modes’ in 1889 on 16 Rue Boissy d’Anglas. 

Lanvin’s Mother & Daughter Logo

In 1897, Jeanne had her first and only child, Marguerite who became her greatest muse. Jeanne designed and created a fashionable wardrobe for her daughter, from the get-go. Marguerite was often playing in the store, where she would be complimented on her charming outfits. Jeanne Lanvin then got the idea to create a children’s clothing line in 1908.  

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Designing & Expanding

In 1909, requests for children’s clothing exceeded orders for hats. So, Jeanne Lanvin decided to expand her label to include teenage and women’s clothing. Lanvin soon became a popular spot for affluent Parisian mothers and daughters to shop for sophisticated couture. 

Jeanne Lanvin was self-taught and she did not draw her designs. She much rather preferred working with materials to create her masterpieces. 

Soon, Jeanne Lanvin became a member of the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture (the Parisian Fashion Council) that same year, officially switching her status from milliner to designer. 

The First of Firsts

Jeanne Lanvin’s career boasts a long list of firsts, some of which include:

  • The first designer to use lamé material.
  • Jeanne Lanvin was the first designer to launch a high-fashion children’s fashion line in 1908. 
  • First to offer a made-to-measure men’s collection in 1926.
  • The first to create a mixed eau de toilette in 1933. 
  • She was one of the first designers to do four seasons–each season including more than 200 looks.

Lanvin And The World

Jeanne Lanvin’s success wasn’t limited to Paris. She wrote about her travels and the traditional clothing that would catch her eye including Indian saris, Chinese attire, toreador outfits and other ethnic materials and styles.

After 1915, Lanvin took the world by storm and subsequently won awards all around the world. These include:

  • 1915 – San Francisco International Exposition
  • 1925 – Paris International Exhibition of Decorative Arts
  • 1937 – Exposition of Art and Technology in Modern Life
  • 1939 – Golden Gate International Exposition
  • 1945 – The Théâtre de la Mode

And the list goes on!

The Lanvin Style

In the 1920s, Lanvin stood out for its use of bold colours combined with innovative decorative techniques. Ribbons, embroideries, pearls, and precious details adorned dresses without ever compromising the ateliers’ cutting work and exceptional construction. This came from Jeanne’s frequent socialising with painters from the Nabis movement, in particular Édouard Vuillard, with whom she shared an obsession with colour. 

Jeanne Lanvin was also a collector, amassing works by Renoir, Degas, Fantin-Latour, Fragonard, and many others. She was highly influenced by the use of light in Impressionist paintings as well as the symbolic works of Odilon Redon. These artistic affinities could often be seen in the brand’s collections. Jeanne Lanvin’s passion for colour even led her to open her own dye factory in 1923. 

The Lanvin Lifestyle

The demand for Lanvin items grew so much that Jeanne decided to take advantage of the opportunity and expand the business even further. 

At 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. 

The Smell of Luxury

Around 1924, Jeanne Lanvin realised that the obvious next step was creating a Lanvin fragrance. After all, perfume is an essential accessory on a women’s vanity table. 

The first perfume My Sin, formulated by Maria Zède, was launched in the USA in 1925. 

However, it wasn’t until 1927 that the label came out with its most popular perfume. At the time Jeanne’s daughter, Marguerite had earned the title of Countess Marie-Blanche de Polignac, so for her 30th birthday, Jeanne commissioned a French perfumer called Arpège as an ode to her daughter. 

And in 1933, true to her pioneering spirit, Jeanne Lanvin launched the very first “Eau mixte” for men and women: L’eau de Lanvin. 

Lanvin Man

In 1926, Jeane Lanvin became the first Parisian designer to launch a made-to-measure clothing line for men. 

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, pyjamas, everyday clothes, and sportswear for 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 the 6th of July 1946, Jeanne Lanvin passed away at the age of 79, the milliner, designer, decorator, perfumer, and lovingly called ‘Madame’ by her staff–leaving behind the Lanvin empire. 

After Jeanne Lanvin passed away, her daughter became president of the company and continued to design collections until 1950. Thereafter, the best designers in the business succeeded her all to uphold Jeanne Lanvin’s legacy. 

Lanvin Now

French designer Bruno Sialelli is Lanvin’s current creative director. Joined in January 2019, Sialelli is Lanvin’s youngest director and certainly amongst one of the best. His signature style has a luxurious and romantic spirit with a youthful spirit. 

Where To Find Lanvin

Looking for luxurious Lanvin? Visit us at one of our three boutiques or shop online and receive complimentary door-to-door delivery.

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