JEANNE LANVIN (l867-l946)
Jeanne Lanvin was, together with Chanel and Vionnet, the most influential couturière of the l920's and l930's a great designer and a great patron of the applied arts of the Art Deco period. If Chanel's look was minimalist and boyish, and Vionnet's marque was distinguished by her use of the soft architecture of the bias cut, Lanvin's designs spelt delicacy, historicism and romance. Her charming dresses, influenced by the elaborate l8th Century costumes worn at Versailles by Marie Antoinette and on stage in Paris by the actress Mlle. Carmargo had evolved from the dresses she made for her daughter Marie-Blanche first as a child, then as an ingénue débutante.
It was not long before mothers wished to emulate their daughters and Madame Lanvin evolved a look for them which was distinguished by its lightness and the typical bell-shaped silhouette which proved so apt a platform for her elaborate embellishments, appliqueed flowers and bows and later in the late l920's and early l930's spectacular essays in beading.
Jeanne Lanvin's robes de style of the early l920's were exquisite confections; as light as air, as fresh as spring and Catalina Barcena, the reigning queen of the Spanish speaking stage and of Hollywood films made for the Spanish-speaking market, was the perfect advertisement for them as her delicate yet dramatic look set off the cloudy confections created for her by Mme. Lanvin to perfection.
Lanvin's landmark stand at the Exposition des Arts Decoratifs in Paris in l925 marked a new, more modern departure in her designs; dresses became far shorter, tubular, cubist in inspiration as can be seen by the beaded shifts she designed for her mondaine garconne clients.
In the l930's as a softer, more sinuous look came back into fashion, Jeanne Lanvin returned (one suspects with a sigh of relief) to the delicate details and gossamer that had made her reputation and her fortune in earlier seasons.