Probably all of us will have seen somewhere the iconic logo of the brand; but we don’t know the history of this glamorous mark. Jeanne Lanvin was born in a poor family in 1867. She was the eldest of her eleven siblings. After working in a hat shop in Barcelona, with just 22 years old she decided to open her first boutique in Paris, 1889. As the known Coco Chanel, she started doing hats and in her free time she used to do each clothes of her beloved daughter; Marguerite Marie-Blanche, who was her main source of inspiration. These designs were sophisticated and attractive. The mothers of her classmates started to order clothes for her daughters like the ones that used to wear Marie-Blanche. After that, the mothers started to order copies of the clothes to match with their children. She was the first designer to create a children’s clothing collection and in 1908 opened a “Children’s Outfits” department; a year later opened a department for “Young girls and Young Ladies”. Finally, in 1909, she entered in the Chambre Syndicale of the Haute Couture of Paris; this involved worldwide recognition and notoriety. The same year the maison appeared for the first time in Vogue.
With regard to the logo, in 1907 Jeanne Lanvin and her daughter Marguerite Marie-Blanche attended a costumed ball, both in matching gowns and hats, and the moment was immortalized in a famous photograph. Paul Iribe (noted illustrator, decorator and costumier) created the logo based on that photograph. Later on, it was reworked by Armand Rateau and was placed above the inscription “Jeanne Lanvin”.
The style of the maison evolved at the same time Marguerite was growing and becoming a woman. In the twenties her designs were characterized by the simplicity and the use of colours, in fact she created a dye factory in 1923 for her own designs where it was produced the characteristic “Lanvin blue”. Although, for Jeanne Lanvin black was a symbol for elegance and sophistication. Moreover, she used complex trimmings, virtuoso embroideries and decorations, a style that was against the contemporary flapper style . In the same decade, the brand diversified its activity creating lingerie, home décor, furs, menswear (1926) and perfumes. Lanvin Parfums SA was created in 1924 and a year later was released “My Sin”, a fragrance based on heliotrope, and in 1927 was launched Arpège, her signature fragrance inspired by her daughter practicing scales on the piano.
A trademark of the maison is the Robes de Style (1920s), an alternative to the flapper and garçonne dresses of the period. It has a sculptural silhouette and it is characterized by its dropped waist and wide skirt, inspired by the 18th century court dresses. Lanvine, nowadays, continues reinventing it.
During the twenties and thirties her collections were clearly influenced by art and different paintings. Jeanne was looking for innovation and improvement, creating avant-garde designs but maintaining the designs delicate and filmy. Moreover, Lanvin introduced the over-the-ankle dresses, a revolution for her era. After all that, her clients were the queens from Italy and Romania and also the upper-middle classes. It has to be said that in 1936 Jeanne Lanvin received the Légion d’Honneur, the highest decoration of the French State.
In 1946, when Jeanne Lanvin died, her daughter took the role of the brand along with a cousin and a fashion industry. At the death of Marguerite Marie-Balnche in 1958, Yves Lanvin got the ownership of the maison due to the fact that Marguerite was childless. In 1994 L’Oréal acquired the 50% of the House and in 1996 the 100%, which was mainly dedicated to perfumery. Nevertheless, in 2001 Lanvin became private again due to the acquirement of magnate Mrs. Shaw-Lan Wang. The same year Alber Elbaz became the artistic director for all activities of Lanvin after being dismissed from Yves Saint Laurent. In 2006, Lucas Ossendrijver was in charge of the men’s line. Alber Elbaz returned the splendour to a concrete garment, the dress. For him, everything turns around the dress: the colours, the materials, the shapes, etc… Nevertheless, the colours are not left to chance. He created designs with flounces, pleats or voluminous sleeves that were renewed every season. But he finished the looks with earrings, necklaces or brooches. As the packaging is concerned, Alber Elbaz introduced a new one featuring a light forget-me-not blue colour, shopping bags imprinted with Paul Iribe’s 1907 illustration of Jeanne Lanvin and her daughter and shoe boxes like antique library files tied with black ribbons.
We can’t forget the “happy” Lanvin bag, one of the house’s bag designs that consist of a simple flap and a grosgrain ribbon on the chain strap with an oversize bow. Every season is redesigned with different colours and materials. It is feminine, elegant and versatile.
In 2010 Lanvin made a capsule collection for H&M. Alber Elbaz said: “My intention is to join the beauty with modern”. The collection was characterized by drapery, volume, asymmetric shoulders and a lot of color. Here you can see the commercial.
On October 2015, Lanvin announced that Alber Elbaz was no longer at the maison.