Lanvin is France's oldest haute couture and fashion house still in business today. Some other luxury brands might have been founded earlier and are as well still around, but they did not produce fashion until much later.

The woman, who was business savvy enough to build an empire and fashionable enough to create everlasting beauty was born into a common middle-class family. As the daughter of a journalist, she was the oldest of eleven children. This situation meant she had to start working early. In 1873, at sixteen years old she started as an apprentice in a hat shop in Paris. Only six years later, in 1889 she ended the apprenticeship and opened her very first own shop. Another four years passed till she changed location and opened a store on the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré under her very own name: Lanvin (Mademoiselle Jeanne) Modes.

In 1895 she married the Italian Count: Emilio di Pietro. After two years of marriage, in 1897, Jeanne gave birth to her daughter and muse Marguerite (often called Marie-Blanche). Her only child was spoilt with the most lavish and extravagant wardrobe, all designed and created by her mother Jeanne Lanvin. Therefore, it was only a question of time until her fashionable and wealthy friends, like her young mothers, noticed these designs and wanted the very same looks for their own daughters and the idea was born to cater to this demand.

After only eight years, in 1903 she divorced the count. This was followed by a second marriage in 1907 to the french Xavier Melet. One year later she finally opened a clothing department for children. Within a year the demand for children’s clothing overtook the one for the original business; hats. To expand the profitable segment further she opened a Young Ladies’ and Women’s department in the very same year. Now mothers and daughters could come in and choose coordinated outfits together. The offerings consisted of day clothes and evening dresses as well as coats and lingerie – a great success.

In the same year, 1909, a rare honor was bestowed upon Lanvin and she became a member of the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture and was officially a Couture Maison. In connection to this, she changed her official occupation from milliner to designer. Soon after, in 1913, another branch was added to the company: a fur collection.

But France wasn’t enough for the entrepreneur: in 1915 Lanvin started to present her designs on an international stage. Starting with the San Francisco International Exposition, ten years later the Paris International Exhibition of Decorative Arts followed. Then in 1937 the Exposition of Art and Technology in Modern Life, in 1939 the Golden Gate International Exposition and lastly in 1945 the Théâtre de la Mode.

The globally spanning fashion empire still wasn’t the full extent of the founders’ limitless imagination and business mindset. During her global marketing campaign, in 1920, she met Armand-Albert Rateau. The architect and decorator was despite his youth already renowned. Within the year they co-created a pavilion, focusing on the art of living – filled with everything from furniture to curtains, wallpaper and much more for the home, all in the popular Art Deco style.

As a company known for the usage of bold colors in 1923 a dye factory was added to the growing empire – a strong move towards vertical integration. As well a sports collection was added to her offering, among which ski suits, swimwear, golf, and tennis attire could be found.

What was missing to become a full lifestyle brand as well as to adapt to the changing times was a scent. In 1924 she planned the expanse of her range of products again and launched her first perfume in the following year.

Now that she offered everything a woman or a child could need her focus shifted to a new market: menswear. In 1926 a made-to-measure clothing line for men was introduced and made Lanvin the first location in all of Paris where both were offered: mens- and womenswear.

For twenty more years Jeanne Lanvin continued to successfully be in business till her peaceful passing on July 6th, 1946. Her daughter took over the reign and became president of the company as well as a creative director for all collections until 1950.

After her daughter’s passing in 1958 the Maison went to a cousin – Yves Lanvin. He was replaced by his son Bernard Lanvin in 1980 who started to sell off the Maison. In 1984 he sold parts of the company to the Midland Bank and with that move, his wive Maryll Lanvin was removed as designer. For the first time, a nonfamily member was awarded the creative control: Claude Montana. Until 1989 the Midland bank acquired a 95% stake in the company only to sell it in 1990 to Orcofi S.A. – a family-holding controlled by the Vuittons. But it was a turbulent time for the house that seemingly lost its luster – in 1993 the couture segment was shuttered. L’Oréal bought out the holding, until they owned the 95% in 1996. Ownership changed again five years later: Lanvin was taken private again by Shaw-Lan Wang – a Taiwanese media magnate. The businessman brought back the glory of the early days by signing Alber Elbaz as artistic director for the Maison.

In 2006 Elbaz introduced a new packaging, the forget-me-not flower light-blue known and loved to this day. In 2008, the brand collaborated with the then jeans-authority Acne. Two brands’ cross-over resulted in Lanvin's characteristics being interpreted in an unexpected material. Two years passed until Elbaz designed a collection for fast fashion giant H&M. He created a collection filled with unmistakably Lanvin icons at an accessible price point. Back in the day, it was a smart and bold move for a French heritage brand to gain move to not only gain recognition but as well recognition.  

In 2015 Elbaz left the brand, because of his critical view of the ever-increasing pace of the fashion industry. His place was taken by Bouchra Jarrar, only to be replaced again in 2017. Her two successors each lasted only a year: Oliver Lapidus and Estrella Archs.

In the meantime, another change of ownership took place. Lanvin was sold in February 2018, this time to a Shanghai-based conglomerate: Fosun International.

2019 Bruno Sialelli was appointed as the youngest creative director the brand has had until today. With him Lanvin is again a glamorous brand for young women who focus on fashionability, glamour and fun. Today the brand is present in more than 50 countries and regions globally.





The style


Lanvin always stood for the use of bold colors and innovative designs. The founder of the brand never had a formal education in fashion design but was known for her talent to perfectly construct garments. That meant the designs were not drawn but instead materials were directly draped to achieve a true masterpiece. She worked with multilayered cuts or parallel stitching and made herself a name for her superior craftsmanship. To get the recognizable aesthetic Lanvin worked with many floating materials like chiffon as well as tulle or organza but as well satins, taffeta or lace. Lame was another material of choice as well as brocade or velvet – everything that looked and felt very luxurious. She innovated the way fashion was decorated – from intricate details to embroideries. One of her favoured decorations was marguerites, another nod to her beloved daughter Marguerite.

As many brands Lanvin had signifying colours – these were pastels as the “Polignac-Pink” and “Lanvin blue”. The latter one is to this day used for boxes and shopping bags. Besides the packaging also the brand’s logo is an allusion to the brand’s founder. As a heritage brand, they resisted to streamline the iconic picture of mother and daughter. It is based on a photograph of the two attending a ball in 1907, of course wearing matching outfits. This logo used to be another ode to her beloved daughter and was initially designed by Paul Iribe as decor for her famous perfume Arpège.

Jeanne Lanvin’s desire for beauty was mirrored in her group of friends consisting of artists and influenced her designs. She collected art from the likes of Degas, Renoir or Fragonard and drew a general inspiration from the impressionist art movement.

Back in the 1920s and early 30s Lanvin-designs were particularly popular, especially with the so-called Bright Young Things and young women. The fashion for clean lines in loud colors as a canvas for ornate decorations was a perfect fit for the brand and Jeannes’ design abilities. Nonetheless has the Maison not been easy to pinpoint to one particular style so was the Robe de Style a design often used and even has been re-interpreted in 2021 by Sialelli for the spring/summer collection. The Robe de Style was signified by a dropped waist paired with a puffy skirt. Unlike many contemporaries Lanvin offered a wide range of styles within her collections to cater to a broad customer range and, rather forward-thinking, diverse body types.

The woman was not only a business savant but as well an innovator in her own right. She was the first in her profession to use lame, as well as to launch a high-fashion children’s line. Additionally, she was premiering a made-to-measure collection for men and created a mixed eau de toilette. And last but certainly not least she was the first designer to do four seasons, each collection including over 200 looks.


One of the most important design languages for Lanvin were the apparent ease of her designs due to her work with the material. This is still to be seen in one, if not the, most famous successors and creative geniuses at Lanvin: Albert Elbaz. The one on par with created one of the most sought-after Maison’s in the world. He worked with draped material, open zippers and seams as his signatures. Focussing on the woman in the dress, making her feel glamorous and confident. Designs in this era were opulent and elaborate while giving the illusion of consisting of one skillful draped piece of cloth.

The present interpretation of the brand is the style of Bruno Sialelli. He departed from the draped and soft shapes by adding more structured garments. Nonetheless the brand still works with flowy materials in vibrant colors. Feathers, silks and furs giving the illusion that wearer is floating. While the soft and light fabrics remain, sparkling embroideries and decorations are still the main attraction of many designs. His current creations are pure perfection for the revival of the roaring 20s – it does have its benefits to be able to have more than a hundred years of history to draw inspiration from and being able to look into your own archives for a revival of every trend, era, social change and consumer mind shifts. He as well is daring in collaborations - no matter whether Lanvin x Gallery Dept. or Lanvin x Judith Leiber. The fashion house is doing what many luxury brands do and collaborates while still staying true to their core.


Lanvin is getting ready to remain relevant in the future. It is one of the few brands that could not only adapt its style but as well its business model to remain relevant and open. After all this, the French Maison known for high-quality garments, glamour, opulence and fashionability might be one, that can accompany us for another 100 years.