From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Lanvin became known for her mother-and-daughter outfits and exquisite robes de style, as well as her modern and global approach to the fashion industry.
Lanvin was the eldest of 11 children. At age 16, she was an apprentice milliner at Madame Félix in Paris; then trained at dressmaker Talbot and, 1889, set up as a milliner at 22 rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré.
In 1895, Lanvin married her first husband, Count Emilio di Pietro, an Italian nobleman, and two years later gave birth to a daughter, Marguerite (a.k.a Marie-Blanche, 1897-1958). The couple divorced in 1903, and their only child became an opera singer and eventually the director of the Lanvin fashion house; in 1925, Marguerite di Pietro married Count Jean de Polignac (1888–1943). Lanvin's second husband, whom she married in 1907, was Xavier Melet, a journalist at the newspaper Les Temps and later the French consul in Manchester, England.
Lanvin made such beautiful clothes for her daughter that they began to attract the attention of a number of wealthy people who requested copies for their own children. Soon, Lanvin was making dresses for their mothers, and some of the most famous names in Europe were included in the clientele of her new boutique on the rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, Paris. 1909, Lanvin joined the Syndicat de la Couture, which marked her formal status as a couturière.
From 1923, the Lanvin empire included a dye factory in Nanterre. 1920s, Lanvin opened shops devoted to home decor, menswear, furs and lingerie, but her most significant expansion was the creation of Lanvin Parfums SA in 1924 and the introduction of her signature fragrance Arpège in 1927, inspired by the sound of her daughter's practising her scales on the piano.
Lanvin commissioned Albert-Armand Rateau (1884–1938) to decorate her apartment at 16 rue Barbet-de-Jouy, Paris, and two country houses. The living, boudoir and bathroom of the apartment was reassembled in 1985 in the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris. For this domicile, Rateau designed some remarkable 1920–22 furniture in bronze. During 1921–22, Rateau was manager of Lanvin-Sport and he also designed the Lanvin spherical La Boule perfume flacon for Arpège of about 1925–34 (still produced, originally by the Manufacture Nationale de Sévres). It is imprinted with Paul Iribe’s gold image of 1907 of Lanvin and her daughter Marguerite. Rateau also designed Lanvin’s fashion house and managed the Lanvin-Décoration department of interior design (established 1920) in the main store on the rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré. (Mel Byars, 2004, p. 614.)
One of the most influential designers of the 1920s and '30s, Jeanne Lanvin's skilful use of intricate trimmings, virtuoso embroideries and beaded decorations in clear, light, floral colors became a Lanvin trademark.
When Lanvin died in 1946, ownership of the firm was ceded to the designer's daughter.
- Chevalier de l'Order de la Légion d'Honneur, to Jeanne Lanvin, 1926
- Officier de l'Order de la Légion d'Honneur, to Jean Lanvin, 1938
- Five Dès d'Or awards (three to François Crahay, 1977, 1981 and 1984; two to Claude Montana, 1990 and 1992)