Lanvin at 125: Jeanne Lanvin

Lanvin 125: 1889-2014
Lanvin anniversary logo. Image: WWD.

Lanvin celebrated its 125th anniversary this year. Founded in 1889 by Jeanne Lanvin, the house marked the occasion with an extensive look into its archives on InstagramPinterest, Facebook, and the new Lanvin Heritage website. (See WWD’s article here.) In 2015, Paris’ Palais Galliera will host a major exhibition devoted to Jeanne Lanvin.

1920s Lanvin hand embroidery
Lanvin hand embroidery, ca. 1925. Image: Instagram.

Commercial sewing patterns based on Lanvin originals were produced between the 1920s and the 1970s. Four head designers presided over the house during that period; I’ll be devoting a post to each designer.

The interwar Lanvin designs available as sewing patterns are by Jeanne Lanvin (1867-1946), who was known for her romantic, youthful dresses with couture embellishment, particularly her robe de style, a full-skirted alternative to the 1920s tubular silhouette.

Lanvin label, été 1926, from a robe de style at The Costume Institute
Lanvin label, 1926. Image: Metropolitan Museum of Art.

1920s

From McCall’s earliest couture patterns, this robe de style with a big bow at the waist and skirt with beaded appliqués was modelled by film star Hope Hampton:

Hope Hampton wears a 1920s Lanvin evening dress, McCall 3935, in McCall Style News January 1925
Hope Hampton in Lanvin, McCall Style News, January 1925.

A version of this dress is in the collection of The Costume Institute:

Lanvin robe de style, Fall/Winter 1924-25 in the collection of The Costume Institute
Lanvin robe de style, Fall/Winter 1924-25. Image: Metropolitan Museum of Art.

McCall 4856 is a short evening or afternoon dress with sheer overlay. The version on the right is in Lanvin blue:

Illustrations of a 1920s Lanvin dress pattern - McCall 4856
Illustrations in McCall Quarterly, Summer 1927. Images courtesy of Debby Zamorski.

(McCall’s also sold transfer patterns for beading and embroidery; the catalogue illustrations show nos. 1558 and 1388.)

This simple double-breasted coat from Pictorial Review was adapted from a Lanvin design:

1920s Lanvin adaptation coat pattern - Pictorial Review 3978
Pictorial Review 3978 adapted from Lanvin (1927). Image: eBay.

Pictorial Review’s catalogue illustration shows the coat with contrast lapels and fur cuffs and collar:

Illustration of Pictorial Review 3978 coat adapted from Lanvin in a 1920s pattern catalogue
Illustration from Pictorial Fashion Book, Winter 1927-28. Image: eBay.

Trim is an important feature of this Lanvin day dress, which is shown in my 1929 Paris Pattern leaflet (available in PDF from my Etsy shop):

1920s Lanvin dress pattern - Paris Pattern 1122
Paris Pattern 1122 by Lanvin (1929)

1930s

McCall 7711 is a day dress with drape-necked bodice and bow-trimmed sleeves. View A, with long sleeves and contrast bodice, has topstitched sleeves and belt that are characteristic of 1930s Lanvin:

1930s Lanvin dress pattern - McCall 7711
McCall 7711 by Lanvin (1934) Image: VPLL on Pinterest.

Here’s the illustration from McCall’s Advanced Paris Styles catalogue:

Lanvin illustration in McCall Advanced Paris Styles, March 1934
Illustration by Blanche Rothschild in McCall Advanced Paris Styles, March 1934. Image: eBay.

In late 1934, McCall and Pictorial Review both produced versions of the same Lanvin afternoon dress: a slim, full-sleeved gown with back cutouts. A reproduction of the McCall version is available from Past Patterns:

1930s Lanvin afternoon dress pattern - McCall 7959
McCall 7959 by Lanvin (1934) Image: Petite Main on Pinterest.

In Blanche Rothschild’s illustration for McCall’s magazine, the dress is shown with McCall 7954 by Georgette Renal:

"Afternoons this Autumn," illustration showing dresses by Lanvin and Renal, McCall's magazine, September 1934
Illustration by Blanche Rothschild, McCall’s magazine, September 1934. Image: Vintage123.

The text for McCall 7959 reads, “Lanvin’s long skirted afternoon dress has a new feeling of formality. The back of the bodice is suspended in folds from a cross shoulder band, slit in triangles to expose the back. Raglan sleeves provide material contrast. The skirt spreads, bell shape, into a hesitation hem.”

The Vintage Pattern Lending Library has a reproduction of the Pictorial Review adaptation of the dress, Pictorial Review 7363:

1930s Lanvin-adapted evening gown pattern - Pictorial Review 7363
Pictorial Review 7363 adapted from Lanvin (1934). Image: VPLL on Pinterest.

Here’s an illustration of the Pictorial Review adaptation from the Winter 1934 catalogue:

Illustration of a Lanvin-adapted evening dress pattern Pictorial Review 7363 in a 1930s pattern catalogue
Illustration from the Pictorial Fashion Book, Winter 1934-35.

McCall 8591 (previously featured in my goddess gowns post) is a glamourous evening dress with pleated shoulder draperies. This illustration is from the McCall catalogue:

Illustration of Lanvin evening gown McCall 8591 in a 1930s McCall pattern catalogue
McCall 8591 by Lanvin (1936) Image courtesy of Debby Zamorski.

Marian Blynn illustrated McCall 8591 for McCall’s magazine (the other gown is by Ardanse):

Marian Blynn illustration of couturier evening patterns McCall 8591 and 8597 in 1930s McCall's magazine
Illustration in McCall’s magazine, January 1936. Illustrator: Marian Blynn. Image: eBay.

The caption reads: “Long scarfs, drifting down from the shoulders, are used by Lanvin. The scarf dress here is hers, and when you dance it is supposed to make you look as though you were floating. These scarfs are also worn wound once around the arm.”

Just for fun, here are two photos by Horst P. Horst and Albert Harlingue showing Lanvin designs from the 1930s:

Model wearing lame draped cowlneck blouse with rolls like corrugated pipe around deep armholes by Lanvin, and black skirt, holding vanity case by Boucheron
Lamé blouse by Lanvin in Vogue, 1933. Photo: Horst P. Horst. Image: Condé Nast via Getty Images.
Jeanne Lanvin with model, ca. 1930s, photographed by Albert Harlingue
Jeanne Lanvin with model, ca. 1930s. Photo: Albert Harlingue. Image: Roger-Viollet via Catwalk Yourself.

Next in the series: Marie-Blanche de Polignac’s early Vogue Paris Originals.

Happy New Year, everyone!

15 thoughts on “Lanvin at 125: Jeanne Lanvin

  1. Absolutely beautiful!!
    Thank you for this wonderful post and for all others through the past year.
    i’ll be looking forward to many more in the brand new year.
    May 2015 be a great year for you and yours.

  2. Thanks for sharing this! I love how you included depictions of one dress in several different outlets — such as pattern plus the depiction of the same design in magazines. Happy New Year.

  3. I really admire your ability to identify models and especially illustrators — unsung heroes of fashion. Sometimes I wish for a photo of the fashion on a real human being, but the illustrators show us the dreams of the era. Thank you for another great post.

  4. Thank you so much for this post and all the research involved. I’ll be waiting for the others. Very Happy New Year!

  5. I love Lanvin patterns – looking forward to the future posts. So interesting to see the ’20s/’30s patterns. Her beaded ’20s gowns were beautiful – epitome of the era.

    1. The press kit says: “Robe de style Colombine,
      winter 1924-1925
      Ivory silk taffeta, black silk velvet appliqués, large, flat beads
      embroidered with gold thread, red silk velvet bow
      Collection Palais Galliera
      © Katerina Jebb, 2014
      The colour of the taffeta is reminiscent of porcelain, while the
      belt and the applications on the skirt evoke the orangey reds and
      intense blacks of lacquer from the Far East. The oversized circular
      patterns, edged with beads, that Jeanne Lanvin was so fond of have
      a Japanese quality, stylised to the point of abstraction.”

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