House of LANVIN
The House of Lanvin is the oldest, continuous fashion house in Paris. Its beginnings were like many others of that time, a millinery shop run by a young woman. This woman was Jeanne Lanvin (pronounced lahn-vahn). Jeanne Lanvin was 22 when she first opened her shop and maintained control of the business for more than 50 years.
As young women do, Jeanne married and had a daughter. In the beginning, she started creating a younger sister’s clothes and then her daughter’s clothes. Mothers admired Marie-Blanche’s clothes and asked Jeanne to make some for their own daughters. The current fashion was to dress little girls in miniature copies of adult clothing, stiff and restrictive. Jeanne believed that women should be dressed in pretty colors, soft fabrics and feminine shapes. Little girls should be dressed with a nod to the women they would one day be, but with room to move and play. By 1909, Jeanne Lanvin (now divorced and using her maiden name again) was making clothing for females of all ages. In 1926, she opened a men’s section, becoming the first fashion house to clothe the whole family.
Lanvin did not follow fashion so much as create fashion as she saw it. Women should be dressed gracefully, young and fresh. She loved art and had a collection that was part of her inspiration. She kept her own dye works so she could dress women in the feminine colors she felt they should wear. In the 1920’s when the Flapper reigned supreme and there was only one style and one look, Lanvin offered an alternative. To wear the Flapper style, you needed to have a straight body with little or no shape, no bust, no hips. Not all women are built that way. So Jeanne Lanvin created what became known as the robe de style. The bodice was cut similarly to the Flapper style with the deep V front and back, but was filled with a chemisette (modesty panel). Rather than the straight skirt, the dress had a dropped waist and a cloche or bell-shaped skirt. These adaptations allowed for more freedom of movement and modesty for women of more voluptuous form. This style was used on the original Lanvin label and is still used on it today.
Grew up in Andover MA, joined the Navy on a dare, met my husband in the Navy. Had two healthy children who both now live in Manchester NH. Charley retired from the Navy and has been teaching in Lawrence MA for over 15 years. I got my degree from Rivier in Graphic Design in 2008, went to work processing claims for the VA. I am now retired due to disabilities. I do a blog covering fashion and beauty for women over 50, home decor and digital art called Blue Cat Review. www.bluecatreview.us