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“Blink” Inspiration: Discovering Lanvin by May Giraud

This is a guest post by our lovely French work placement, 15 year old May Giraud. We tasked May to undertake a research project, with the inspiration coming from a visit to the V&A.

As part of my work placement, we went to the Victoria and Albert Museum to have a look at the fashion department. I fell in love with one of the Lanvin dresses.

Robe de style, Jeanne Lanvin, ca. 1922-3 (image from Pinterest)

Robe de style, Jeanne Lanvin, ca. 1922-3 (image from Pinterest)

This is the white organza dress with colourful flowers; one of her signature “robes de style” looks. I chose this one because I find it simple but very considered at the same time. It is quite simple because of its white colour but also considered with those perfectly well placed flowers, Usually I don’t really like flowery decoration but here it gives the dress all it’s charm. The tiers at the top and bottom of the dress, contrasted with the small waist, is the shape that was the fashion at this time. I really like that this dress is very light and elegant, perfect for a young lady.

Jeanne Lanvin Robe de Style of white organza, fashion drawing (image from Pinterest)

Jeanne Lanvin Robe de Style of white organza, fashion drawing (image from Pinterest)

Lanvin is the oldest French fashion house still in business.

Jeanne Lanvin was born in 1867. At the age of sixteen she started as an apprentice milliner. In 1889, she decided to open her own millinery shop. Her only daughter Marguerite was born in 1897. Having her own daughter inspired her to create mother and daughter clothes. First she made dresses for one of her younger sisters and her daughter. Other mothers with daughters saw those really nice dresses and asked her to make some for them too. In 1909 Jeanne began selling her dresses and her reputation grew. What was so particular was the fact that she offered clothes with no difference between the women and children’s styles. That same year she opened her own couture house in Paris.

In 1913 Lanvin created her famous “robes de style” and the dress that I chose from the Victoria & Albert museum is part of that signature look.

She created her first perfume in 1925, called ‘My Sin’. Lanvin became famous as a perfumier, and now there are around 30 Lanvin perfumes to choose from.

Lanvin, "Arpège" bottle (1925). (image from Pinterest)

Lanvin, “Arpège” bottle (1925). (image from Pinterest)

A year later a menswear division was launched, making her the first couturier to dress whole families. Jeanne Lanvin also dressed famous film actresses in the 20’s and 30’s. She also had clients like the Queens of Italy and Romania, and English princesses.

Lanvin is still a very successful brand with Albert Elbaz as the creative director since 2001.

Lanvin's logo (images from Pinterest)

Lanvin’s logo (images from Pinterest)

The brand’s logo is still the same as was created by Jeanne. It was inspired by a photo taken with her daughter in 1907 (image on the left). On the picture it looks like they are wearing mother and daughter dresses and hats, symbolic of Lanvin because Jeanne’s reputation grew because of these famous dresses and she started her career s a milliner.

Huge thanks to May for that insight into this iconic and influential label! For more inspirational posts, just take a look here.

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