Jeanne Lanvin, Fashion Designer, 1867 – 1946
by Mayra Esquivel, Fashion Student, Pima Community College
|Jeanne Lanvin. Photograph by Talbot.|
Jeanne Lanvin got married in 1896 and divorced in 1903. Born of this union was her only daughter, Marguerite. For Lanvin, being a single mother had a negative effect on her business. In 1907 she married a journalist, Xavier Melèt, but it was not a happy marriage; it was considered an arrangement of convenience. They remained married until 1953 when Melèt died.
Lanvin was the first to design children’s clothes. She designed for her daughter, using her as a model, and creating scaled-down versions of clothing for adults. Her hat clients loved her designs and the fact that mother and daughter could wear similar clothes. In 1909, Jeanne began making dresses for sale. She made no distinction between women’s and children’s wear; her designs were youthful, sophisticated, and featured exquisite handmade detail. The demand for her designs persuaded Jeanne to open a couture house selling mother-daughter garments and, thus, started her career as “Grand Couturier.” Since Marguerite was the unofficial model, as she was growing, Jeanne’s collections grew to target additional clients matching her daughter’s age.
|Marie Blanche Polignac, née Lanvin|
|"It's still raining", fashion plate from La Gazette du Bon Ton, 1915, showing (left to right) tailored suits by Paquin, Lanvin, and Doeuillet and a coat by Paquin.|
The key of her successful career was that she knew her clientele. Jeanne Lanvin was one of the first
designers who created a true empire; her legacy has proven timeless and is one of the oldest surviving
couture houses. In 1946, Jeanne Lanvin died and her daughter, now known as Marie-Blanced, took over the company until 1958 when she died. Now Lanvin is headed by Alber Elbaz. Elbaz is not reinventing the House of Lanvin, he is following and developing the same environment Lanvin did. His sophisticated and delicate designs create a sublime silhouette suitable and flattering for various types of bodies. He is keeping the style of youth, femininity, and beauty, the same as Jeanne Lanvin’s.
Lanvin’s client list includes celebrities as Nicole Kidman, Kate Moss, Chloé Sevigny, Sofia Coppola, First Lady Michelle Obama, Queens of Italy, Roumania and English princesses House of Lanvin has numerous international locations, several in the United States. In 2011 three boutiques were opened in Moscow. They are traditional boutiques making clothes for both mothers and daughters, in honor of Jeanne Lanvin.
Copyright 2013, Mayra Esquivel. Published with the permission of the author. All rights remain with the author.