Jeanne Lanvin was a prolific French couturier who enjoyed several decades of success during the twentieth century. First training as a milliner during the late 19th century and subsequently opening her own business in 1889, Lanvin eventually joined the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture in 1909.
She ran a highly successful fashion house for many years, her success only interrupted by invading Nazi’s who called for French couturiers to design under the occupation of the Third Reich, and relocate haute couture to Berlin during the Second World War. Lanvin refused, backing the President of the Chambre Syndicale, Lucien Lelong, supporting the livelihoods of innumerable ateliers and the heritage of France’s fashion industry. Lanvin later died after the end of war in 1946, leaving behind France’s oldest couture house still in operation today.
Lanvin began making womenswear after clients expressed their admiration for the clothes Lanvin designed for children. In 1897, Lanvin’s daughter Marguerite was born as a result of Lanvin’s marriage to Count Emilio di Pietro in 1895. Following Marguerite’s birth, Lanvin produced children’s clothes inspired by her devotion and relationship to her daughter, which Lanvin cherished. The clothes reflected Lanvin’s desire to produce meticulously designed garments which signified Lanvin’s desire to dote on her daughter, by providing her with the perfect wardrobe for a special young lady. Lanvin flourished during motherhood.
Above image: C.I.40.22.1. Jeanne Lanvin child’s dress. c1910. Silk. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. https://metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/102920
After Lanvin’s clientele noticed the quality of Marguerite’s clothing when she socialised with her peers, Lanvin was encouraged to open a children’s department in 1908, closely followed by a unique mother and daughter department in 1909. Mothers could visit Lanvin’s boutique in order to purchase coordinating ensembles with their children that would complement the styles of one another. The articles (Jeanne Lanvin, Interpreter of Girlhood (1912); How Jeanne Lanvin is Dressing the Young Girl (1913)), demonstrate the success of the designer’s children’s collection, as it was included within the pages of American Vogue.
Above image: 1998.437a-b. Jeanne Lanvin child’s dress. c1922. Silk. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. https://www.mfa.org/collections/object/girls-dress-86843
It is clear that Lanvin and Marguerite had a special relationship. The Lanvin house still uses the illustration of Lanvin and Marguerite holding hands together at a ball for their logo, recognisable on perfumes such as Arpège. In the chapter ‘The Invention of the Label’ by Emmanuelle Serrière, it states, ‘that Lanvin chose this logo to show all the love she felt for her child, as well as to refer to the origins of her inspiration – children’s clothes.' Lanvin wanted to celebrate and share the joys of motherhood and this special relationship with her daughter, with her own wider clientele, reflecting these core values in her later collections and the marketing of her couture range.
Above image: Photograph of Lanvin and her daughter Marguerite (left), and the Lanvin logo designed by Paul Iribe Lanvin Heritage; Mary Evans / Jazz Age Club Collection/Everett Collection. c1907. “The Best Jeanne Lanvin Looks in Vogue,” Vogue. Laird Borrelli-Persson. 6 March 2015. https://www.vogue.com/article/jeanne-lanvin-best-moments-from-the-archives
In a series of illustrations for the fashion magazine Gazette du Bon Ton, Art Deco illustrator Pierre Brissaud captured the essence of Lanvin’s love of motherhood and the influence this had on her fashion lines. During the 1920’s, Brissaud produced illustrations which marketed Lanvin’s designs in scenes depicting a mother and daughter interacting with each other in various scenarios.
They varied from a mother preparing to go to a ball whilst her daughter watches her get ready, another taking her daughters to the zoo, the races, attending and leaving parties and visiting gardens with one another. All of the scenarios depict impeccably well-dressed mothers with their daughters wearing the latest sartorial styles from Lanvin’s collections.
Above image: 2004.39.7. “Allons Voir Les Singes – Tailleur et Robes de Fillettes, de Jeanne Lanvin,” plate from Gazette du Bon Ton, Volume 1, No. 4. c1921. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. https://www.mfa.org/collections/object/allons-voir-les-singes-tailleur-et-robes-de-fillettes-de-jeanne-lanvin-plate-31-from-gazette-du-bon-ton-volume-1-no-4-449337
“On t’Attend! – Robe d’organdi et manteau d’enfant, de Jeanne Lanvin,”Gazette du Bon Ton,” plate from Volume 2, No. 6, 1920, currently held in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, shows a well-dressed lady with her daughter accompanying her in her boudoir. The dress has a resemblance to a gown held at the Palais Galleria dated from the same period, and a robe de style from the National Museum of Scotland. The robe de style was a type of gown promoted by Lanvin, recognisable by its dropped waist and wide hips which hinted at styles popular during the 18th century. The robe de style was flattering for all body types, hiding any areas wearers did not want to draw attention to or.
Above image: 2004.31.5. “On t’Attend! – Robe d’organdi et manteau d’enfant, de Jeanne Lanvin,” plate from Gazette du Bon Ton, Volume 2, No. 6. c1920. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. https://www.mfa.org/collections/object/on-tattend-robe-dorgandi-et-manteau-denfant-de-jeanne-lanvin-plate-44-from-gazette-du-bon-ton-volume-2-no-6-447823
Above image: GAL1969.92.4. ‘Marjolaine,’ Jeanne Lanvin dress. c1920. Silk. Palais Galliera. http://www.palaisgalliera.paris.fr/en/work/marjolaine-period-style-dress-jeanne-lanvin
(I think the rosettes are positioned in a similar way to the flowers on the gown that can be seen in the Bon Ton illustration, and the neckline is very comparable).
Above image: K.2014.38. Jeanne Lanvin robe de style. c1924. Silk and metallic thread. National Museum of Scotland. https://www.nms.ac.uk/explore-our-collections/collection-search-results/?item_id=712772
(I have included this dress because although it is different in the sense that it has a scalloped hem, the way the skirt of the dress hangs with the pleats, and how it cascades past the hips, is again very similar to the gown from the Bon Ton advertisement).
Above image: 1976.30.2. Jeanne Lanvin. Robe de Style. c1926-27. Silk, plastic, glass. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. https://metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/94721
“La Fête est Finie – Robe d’organdi et robe de petite fille, de Jeanne Lanvin,” from Gazette du Bon Ton, Volume 1, No. 4, 1920, show a mother and daughter in matching dresses printed with a leaf design in different colours. As the skirts of Lanvin gowns were often wide, Lanvin used this space to produce avant-garde prints and embellished patterns on her robe de styles, such as the examples below from The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Above image: 2004.29.7. “La Fête est Finie – Robe d’organdi et robe de petite fille, de Jeanne Lanvin,” plate from Gazette du Bon Ton, Volume 1, No. 4. c1920. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. https://www.mfa.org/collections/object/la-fête-est-finie-robe-dorgandi-et-robe-de-petite-fille-de-jeanne-lanvin-plate-30-from-gazette-du-bon-ton-volume-1-no-4-447388
Above image: 1980.487.2. Jeanne Lanvin Robe de Style. c1924-25. Silk, metallic thread. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. https://metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/94722
Above image: C.I.62.58.1. Jeanne Lanvin Robe de Style. c1924. Silk, metallic thread, glass beads. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. https://metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/81462
“Que vous êtes belle, Maman… – Robe du soir et robe d’enfant, de Jeanne Lanvin,” from Gazette du Bon Ton, Volume 1, No. 3, 1922, depicts a mother in a metallic and sequinned dress with an individual who appears to be a housemaid helping her fit her dress. Her daughter wears a blue gown as she watches. The dropped waist of the mother’s gown is similar to garments such as a 1923 metallic Metropolitan Museum of Art evening dress pictured below. The dress worn by the child, resembles an adult dress from the Metropolitan Museum of Art collection coloured in the synonymous ‘Lanvin Blue,’ a colour produced from Lanvin’s own dye factory.
Above image: 2004.48.6. “Que vous êtes belle, Maman… – Robe du soir et robe d’enfant, de Jeanne Lanvin,” plate from Gazette du Bon Ton, Volume 1, No. 3. c1922. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. https://www.mfa.org/collections/object/que-vous-êtes-belle-maman-robe-du-soir-et-robe-denfant-de-jeanne-lanvin-plate-23-from-gazette-du-bon-ton-volume-1-no-3-450158
Above image: C.I.62.58.2a, b. Jeanne Lavnin evening dress. c1923. Silk, metallic thread, glass beads. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. https://metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/94704
(This dress resembles the gown pictured in the Bon Ton illustration as it resembles the dropped waist and long length hem line).
Above image: 2009.300.2635. Jeanne Lanvin ‘Joilbois’ dress. 1922-23. Silk. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. https://metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/157483
(I think this almost looks like an adult version of the child’s dress as seen in the Bon Ton
Finally, the 1922 “‘Vous étiez haute comme ça’ ou Ça ne Nous Rajeunit pas – Robe d’après-midi et robe de fillette, de Jeanne Lanvin,” from Gazette du Bon Ton, Volume 1, No. 2, shows a mother talking to her daughter dressed in a gown exhibiting Lanvin’s penchant for decorative and embellished motifs made from swirling and spiralling patterns, with both mother and daughter sporting atypical 1920’s dropped waist gowns, although the hem of the daughter’s is slightly higher. Perhaps this reflects the mode as exhibited by a member of the younger generation, for rising hemlines, with mother preferring to keep her gown at a more modest length.
Above image: 2004.47.8. “Vous étiez haute comme ça’ ou Ça ne Nous Rajeunit pas – Robe d’après-midi et robe de fillette, de Jeanne Lanvin,” plate from Gazette du Bon Ton, Volume 1, No. 2. c1922. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. https://www.mfa.org/collections/object/vous-étiez-haute-comme-ça-ou-ça-ne-nous-rajeunit-pas-robe-daprès-midi-et-robe-de-fillette-de-jeanne-lanvin-plate-16-from-gazette-du-bon-ton-volume-1-no-2-450113
Lanvin had a romantic vision of both women’s and children’s clothing and her delicate designs were translated into illustrations produced by Brissaud. Lanvin took her responsibility of being a devoted mother seriously; she did not attend many social events nor did she engage in Parisian social circles. Instead, she focused on the relationship she had with daughter Marguerite, and her business which expanded into homewear, perfume, and menswear. I think, that by looking at these illustrations, Lanvin’s love for her experience of motherhood is obvious, and a testament to the profound relationship she shared with Marguerite, as well as the lasting influence this had on Lanvin’s fashion collections.
If you would like to learn more about the work of Pierre Brissaud, I found an excellent blog post about the illustrator here. More information can be found by following the links included in the post. I found it insightfully helpful in understanding more about Brissaud’s career and involvement with the Gazette du Bon Ton.
 Emmanuelle Serrière, “The Invention of the Label,” Paris Haute Couture eds. Olivier Saillard and Anne Zazzo. Paris: Flammarion, 2013. 27.