I think that designer Jeanne Lanvin is often overlooked compared to such contemporaries as Christian Dior and Coco Chanel. The first Paris exhibit at the Palais Galliera musée de la mode that is on until August 23, 2015 will go a long way to rectifying this oversight. Over 100 models from the oldest couture house in Paris that is still in business will show what the designer achieved.
Like Chanel, Lanvin started her career as a milliner. Inspired by her own daughter, Marguerite, she then expanded into children’s wear and clothing for young women before launching into haute couture. The Lanvin realm continued to expand into bridal wear, lingerie, furs, interior décor, sportswear, and men’s wear. The entrepreneur then expanded into markets other than Paris, including resort towns both within France and as far away as Buenos-Aires.
Lanvin became known for her use of her favorite intense blue, as inspired by 14th century fresco painter Fra Angelico. Her famous perfume, Arpège, was a gift for Marguerite’s thirtieth birthday. The highly personal logo features Lanvin and her daughter. Beading, embroidery, and cutouts all characterized her meticulous craftsmanship.
In 2002, former president George W. Bush famously said, “The problem with the French is that they don’t have a word for entrepreneur.” Of course, the snicker went around the world, because the French word has roots back to the 16th century. It comes from entreprendre (ohn-truh-pren-druh), to undertake. If Lanvin doesn’t represent entrepreneurship, I don’t know who does!