A lot of today’s most famous fashion brands are actually family businesses. Some of them still have the descendants of the founder as head of the companies, overseeing that their family name and identity is not besmirched. Luxury labels like Fendi, Pucci, and Missoni are just some whose names are as important to the family as well as to fashion. However, there is one brand, still beloved today, that started because of family, not just continued. This brand’s heartwarming beginnings give it more character and personality, as well add more depth to the fashions they still produce today. This is the house of Lanvin.
Today, Lanvin is characterized by Parisian chic. It’s considered to be one of the most quintessential French brands in the global fashion industry today, one that can rival the likes of Chanel and Dior. Through the years, a number of designers reinterpreted the Lanvin look, but all had contained that unmistakably French touch. Big names in the industry like Claude Montana, Cristina Ortiz, and the unforgettable Alber Elbaz have all lent their talents to keep the house on Lanvin alive. And they’ve all succeeded as it’s still one of the premier brands after all these decades.
From mother-daughter to global fashion brand
Jeanne Lanvin opened her haute couture house in 1889, and as it is still running today as a ready-to-wear fashion brand, it’s the oldest established brand in the industry. She started out designing clothes for her daughter, Marie-Blanche de Polignac, which caught the eye of her daughter’s friends’ mothers. Soon, these upper-class women asked Lanvin to make their own daughters’ outfits, and eventually for themselves as well. After orders were piling up, she opened her first shop at the famous rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré in Paris, known to this day as the most fashionable street in all of Paris. In 1909, Lanvin officially joined Syndicat de la Couture, France’s governing body on haute couture.
Jeanne Lanvin worked at her couture house until she passed away in 1946. Her daughter Marguerite inherited her business, and a series of other Lanvin cousins succeeded her in running it all throughout the rest of the 20th century. In 1996, L’Oreal Paris acquired the brand for a few years until investor group Harmonie S.A. bought the group in 2001. To to this day, the brand is still under the care of Harmonie looked upon closely by Taiwanese media magnate, Mrs. Shaw-Lan Wang.
The Lanvin man
Although not as popular as their womenswear, Lanvin actually has a menswear line. Similarly to the women’s line, the brand’s menswear has also seen its fair share of creative directors through the years. When the line was first introduced back in the 1970’s, French designer Christian Benais held the helm until Dominique Morlotti took charge of both men’s and women’s lines in the 90’s. From 2005 to today, Dutch designer Lucas Ossendrijver has been designing Lanvin menswear. His youthful, street-smart, and sleek style has captured the eyes and wallets of gentlemen through the years and has stood its ground against the more heavily-focused womenswear.
Brand’s success with Alber Elbaz at the helm
Perhaps the most famous designer of Lanvin is Alber Elbaz, a well-loved French-Lebanese designer. From 2001 to 2015, Elbaz revolutionized the Lanvin aesthetic and transformed into the chicest label from Paris in the early 21st century. He often used drapery as a design technique, playing with all kinds of fabrics, from the shiniest of silks, the stiffest of satins, and the softest of chiffon. Elbaz also enthused the Lanvin identity with pops of color, often mixing them together to create eye-catching combinations, the most famous of which is the red and the pink. During his more than a decade-long tenure, Lanvin became the go-to cocktail dress label in all of Paris, and in fashion.
Lanvin for H&M
In 2010, under the design leadership of Alber Elbaz, Lanvin collaborated with Swedish fast fashion brand H&M to create a capsule collection. Incorporating the cocktail party spirit Elbaz created for the French house with the mass market approach of the retail giant, Lanvin for H&M became one of the most successful collaborations for the two labels. The collection was introduced through a small fashion show at the Pierre Hotel in the Upper East Side of New York City. Apart from his signature jewel-toned cocktail dresses and heavily-embellished pieces, the collab also featured hand-drawn t-shirts with quirky Parisienne comic designs. The shirts became a hit, especially for the mass market audience that commonly buys H&M.
It’s an incredible feat for a mother making her children’s clothing to becoming one of the most beloved and successful brands in the fashion industry. Yet, with the help of a number of designers, the brand grew from its haute couture origins to a critical and commercial success of a brand. Today, the brand is one of the rare and few that define Parisienne style, one that is envied, revered, and imitated by fashion lovers all over the world.
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