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. 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. 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. 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 – three buildings in Paris, seven branches in France and worldwide. 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. 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. Patron of the arts, she began a fruitful association with the theatre and the cinema in the 1920s. In 1938, findmaker Sacha Guitry awarded the Legion of Honor to the “Ambassador of elegance”.
Jeanne Lanvin’s art is rich in historical references. Antique motifs were restylised by her embroidery workshops, while ample 18th century dresses provided inspiration for her famous “de style” dress.
Today, the longed-for label makes ready-to-wear (men and women fashion), accessories, perfumes and is worn by icons like Michelle Obama.
In 2001, Lanvin, the oldest fashion house still in operation, was taken from L’Oréal by investor group Harmonie S.A, headed by Shaw-Lan Wang, a Chinese businesswoman. Since then, Alber Elbaz has been appointed creative director. In 2006, Lucas Ossendrijver was brought on to head the men’s line.