The Oldest French House, Lanvin, Gets a Well-Deserved Exhibit

The oldest French fashion house still in existence, Lanvin, is celebrating its 125th year. Already a festive type, creative director Alber Elbaz has been combing through the archives in preparation for a major retrospective of the woman who started it all, Jeanne Lanvin.


Over a hundred pieces have been sourced for the first Paris exhibition devoted to the couturière, who infused her creations with a playful meticulousness that helped define the joie de vivre of the Belle Époque. With a taste for travel, not to mention a voracious appetite for books, she was among the first to incorporate ethnic fabrics and non-traditional colors into her oeuvre. The deep blue of the 14th-century frescoes by Fra Angelico became her signature, which she used liberally in her Paris home.

More than anything, Lanvin found enduring inspiration in her only child, Marguerite. In 1908, Madame became the first to design a children’s line, and by the time her daughter turned 30, she debuted another first for a designer, her Arpège fragrance. The figures portrayed on the round bottle are the mother and child at play, a logo the house still uses today.

Jeanne Lanvin, March 8 – August 23, 2015, Palais Galliera, Paris

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