The House of Lanvin: A History April 19 2022
Lanvin is the oldest Parisian fashion house still in business, and a major player in the global fashion market. The label’s founder, Jeanne Lanvin, was born in 1867, the eldest of eleven children. She apprenticed as a milliner in her early teens, then trained as a dressmaker before opening a millinery shop on the Rue du Faubourg Saint Honore in 1889. In 1897, she gave birth to her daughter Marguerite (also called Marie-Blanche), to whom she was unequivocally devoted. Ever wonder the story behind the label’s logo? It was designed by illustrator Paul Irbe, but based on a drawing by Jeanne Lanvin depicting the bond between mother and daughter.
In the early twentieth century, Lanvin began making clothing for Marguerite, and the designs were so beautiful and well-made that her friends requested copies for their children. By the time she had opened her millinery shop in 1897, Lanvin already had some of the most elite European women in her clientele. In the 1920s, the Lanvin label had grown to become one of the most influential fashion lies in the world. In 1926, Jeanne Lanvin launched her menswear line, becoming the first courtier to dress entire families. She had also expanded into designs for the home—for Lanvin, fashion was a lifestyle, and encompassed interior decoration, perfume, lingerie, sportswear, and on and on and on. Her inspiration came from everywhere—her painting collection, fruit, gardens, traveling, costume collections.
Lanvin’s style of designing was unique—instead of draping or sketching a design herself, she would give verbal instructions to her team of sketchers with what she wanted. Lanvin’s designs were known for embellishments—trimmings and beadwork and embroideries and ribbons, ruffles, and lace. (really, all my favorite things) She was so enamored of quattrocento blue—and used it so often—that the shade became known as “Lanvin blue” to those in the know.
Upon her death in 1946, ownership of the fashion line passed to her daughter, Marguerite. Four years later, Marguerite invited Antonio Canovas del Castillo del Rey to become the head designer, a post which he held for the next 13 years. In 1964 Jules-Francois Crahay debuted his first collection as head designer, which was met with enough praise to help solidify the brand in the world of fashion and couture once more. Crahay was one of the first designers to glamorize trousers for evening wear. His successor, Claude Montana, had a more aggressive approach; his sculptural designs certainly differentiated him from his predecessors. After a period of transition, Alber Elbaz took the design lead in 2002, a post which he still holds. Elbaz’s designs have been likened to Lanvin’s original 1920s designs, which led to a resurgence of popularity. The Lanvin label is about embellishment, and fun, and femininity—all things that we embrace here at Rice and Beans Vintage.