There are a few specific, standout moments that mark an editor’s career, which is more often than not a jaded blur of runway shows, written words, flashing lights, and air kisses. These moments don’t come around very often, but when they do, they somehow pull you back through the annals of history, the annals of fashion, reminding you why, exactly, you’ve chosen this path. One of those moments, for this editor at least, came in the form of an invitation for myself and our Editor-in-Chief, Haleh Nia, to discover the office of Jeanne Lanvin – yes, the Jeanne Lanvin.
On a particularly rainy morning during Fall/Winter 2014 Paris Fashion Week, we made our way through the city and towards an intersection of the popular Faubourg St Honoré that houses several Lanvin headquarters. Past a security desk, up a few floors, and down a remarkably unremarkable corridor, a thick fireproof steel door opened onto the office. The walls of the intimate space, in which nothing has ever been moved or changed for decades, were lined with books on almost any subject matter from which one could draw inspiration, from botanical volumes to encyclopedias on theater costumes. Across from Lanvin’s surprisingly sleek and modern black desk stood a three-panel, full-length mirror on rails, which the designer used to slide left and right to see every angle of her creations while she sat, completely still, viewing her clientele.
Piled high on top of her desk where the era’s version of lookbooks – massive 200-page books filled with hand-painted illustrations of each of her collections. Madame Lanvin would produce up to four collections per year – not unlike the current fashion schedule – and send these lookbooks physically to her clients around Europe.
During the visit, the Savoir Flair team was privy to never-before-known facts about the brand and its history, including the origin of the specific shade of blue used by Lanvin, a color spotted by the designer during a visit to Florence in a Fra Angelico fresco. As for the famous Lanvin mother-and-daughter logo, it is a translation of a photograph of Madame Lanvin and her daughter, Marguerite, taken in 1907.
Delve into the history of France’s oldest fashion house when you click through our gallery above.
Inside the Office of Jeanne Lanvin
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Jeanne Lanvin and her daughter in 1907. This is the picture that inspired the house’s logo.
Some of the inspirational books Madame Lanvin used to consult for her clientele