One of the most influential designers of the 1920's and 1930's, Jeanne Lanvin's skillful use of intricate trimmings, virtuoso embroideries and beaded decorations in clear, light, floral colors became a Lanvin trademark. When Lanvin died in 1946, ownership of the firm was naturally ceded to the designer's daughter, Marguerite di Pietro.
However, her most significant expansion was the creation of Lanvin Parfums SA in 1924. Please scroll down further for more info on the fragrances.
In addition, Lanvin commissioned Rateau to decorate her apartment at 16 rue Barbet-de-Jouy, Paris, and two country houses. (The living room, boudoir and bathroom of the apartment was reassembled in 1985 in the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris.) For this domicile, Rateau designed some remarkable 1920–22 furniture in bronze.
During 1921–22, Rateau was manager of Lanvin-Sport and he also designed the Lanvin spherical La Boule perfume flacon for Arpège (originally produced by the Manufacture Nationale de Sèvres). To this day, Arpège perfume containers are imprinted with Paul Iribe's gold image (rendered in 1907) of Lanvin and her daughter Marguerite. Rateau also designed Lanvin’s fashion house and managed Lanvin-Décoration (an interior-design department, established 1920) in the main store on the rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré.
- Chevalier de l'Order de la Légion d'Honneur, to Jeanne Lanvin, 1926
- Officier de l'Order de la Légion d'Honneur, to Jeanne Lanvin, 1938
When Lanvin died in 1946, ownership of the firm was ceded to the designer's daughter, who had shared management of the firm from 1942 with a cousin and then a fashion-industry expert. Because Marie-Blanche de Polignac was childless when she died in 1958, the ownership of the House of Lanvin went to a cousin, Yves Lanvin. (See Directors and Officers Since Jeanne Lanvin below.)
From mid-1960's through to the takeover by L'Oreal, Lanvin was run by Bernard Lanvin. The export department was in the original factory in Nanterre where all the perfumes were made and bottled. The administrative Head Office was in Paris at 3, Rue de Tilsitt.
In 1964 Charles of the Ritz merged with the Lanvin group. It was from then on known as Lanvin-Charles of the Ritz. In 1971, the company was sold to Squibb and Squib sold off Lanvin in 1978 and renamed the brand Charles of the Ritz Group, Ltd.
In 1979 Lanvin bought its independence from Squibb USA and a major PR promotional tour was arranged by Paris in the United States in the same year.
Britain Midland Bank bought a stake in the company from the family in March 1989, and installed Léon Bressler to revamp the firm's faded image. However, in February 1990, Midland backed out and sold Lanvin to Orcofi, a French holding company led by the Vuitton family. From Orcofi, 50% of the House of Lanvin was acquired by L'Oréal in 1994, 66% in 1995 and 100% in 1996. Under L'Oréal's diverse umbrella, an array of CEOs who circulate within the French fashion industry have directed the company.
In August 2001, Lanvin, the oldest fashion house still in operation, was taken private again by investor group Harmonie S.A., headed by Mrs. Shaw-Lan Wang, a Taiwanese media magnate. And, October 2001, Alber Elbaz was appointed the Lanvin artistic director for all activities, including interiors. In 2006, he introduced new packaging for the fashion house, featuring a forget-me-not flower color, Lanvin's favorite shade which she purportedly saw in a Fra Angelico fresco (Suzy Menkes, 2005.) In 2006, Lucas Ossendrijver was appointed the head of the men's line, which debuted with great success, strengthening Lanvin's brand.
While enjoying a revitalized reputation in luxury, Lanvin received mainstream press in the United States in May 2009 when Michelle Obama was photographed wearing a popular line of Lanvin's sneakers made of suede with grosgrain ribbon laces and metallic pink toe caps while volunteering at a Washington, D.C. food bank. The sneakers were reportedly retailed at $540.
On December 4, 2009, Lanvin opened their first US boutique in Bal Harbour, Florida.
- 1946–1950, Lanvin's daughter Marie-Blanche de Polignac, owner and director
- 1942–50, Marie-Blanche's cousin Jean Gaumont-Lanvin (Colombes, 1908–Versailles, 1988), director general
- 1950–1955, Daniel Gorin (Paris, 1891–Paris, 1972), director general
- 1959, Marie-Blanche's cousin Yves Lanvin, owner; Madame Yves Lanvin, president.
- 1989–1990, Léon Bressler, chairperson
- 1990–1993, Michel Pietrini, chairperson
- 1993–1995, Loïc Armand, chairperson
- 1995–2001, Gérald Asaria, chairperson
- 2001–2004, Jacques Lévy, director general
- 1946–1958, Marie-Blanche de Polignac, director general and designer
- 1950–1963, Castillo (b. Antonio Canovas del Castillo del Rey, 1908– d. 1984), women's collections
- 1960–1980, Bernard Devaux, hats, scarves, haute couture; women's "Diffusions" line 1963–1980,
- 1964–1984, Jules-François Crahay (Liège, 1917–1988), haute couture collections and "Boutique de Luxe"
- 1972, Christian Benais, men's ready-to-wear collection
- 1976–1991, Patrick Lavoix, men's ready-to-wear collections
- 1981–1989, Maryll Lanvin, ready-to-wear, first haute couture in 1985 and women's "Boutique" collections
- 1989–1990, Robert Nelissen, women's ready-to-wear collections
- 1990–1992, Claude Montana, five haute-couture collections
- 1990–1992, Eric Bergère, women's ready-to-wear collections
- 1992–2001, Dominique Morlotti, women's and men's ready-to-wear collections
- 1996–1998, Ocimar Versolato, women's ready-to-wear collections
- 1998–2002, Cristina Ortiz, women's ready-to-wear collections
- From 2002, Alber Elbaz, artistic director of all creative activities
- From 2003, Martin Krutzki, designer of men's ready-to-wear
- 2005–present, Lucas Ossendrijver, Designer of men's ready-to-wear
Her first perfumer was a lady of Russian origin, Marie Zede. To this day, many people were mystified about the person, this Marie Zede, the perfumer for Parfums Gabilla, then known to those in the fragrance industry as "Madame Zed". Her origins and first name were an enigma, some people thought the name was perhaps an acronym or even a moniker given as an alias to encompass the fragrance creations made by an unknown perfumer or group of various perfumers. However, lucky for us, Octavian Coifan, from the now defunct blog 1000fragrances "found an official paper from Lanvin from 1923. It is an order of some raw materials addressed to a supplier, and handwritten by.... Maria Zède. The address of the "lab" is 13, rue Castiglione."
Lanvin's brother Gabriel, a chemist, also helped Madame Zede with the creation of the Lanvin fragrances. The perfumes were produced at the Suresnes factory of Parfums Volnay founder, Rene Duval.
The best example of Gabilla’s influence over other designers would be for the perfume, My Sin. My Sin, first introduced by Gabilla in 1920. The round flacon, of black crystal and molded with stylized floral accented with gold enamel, was designed by Julien Viard and produced by Depinoix, was first used for the Gabilla scent Amour Americain in 1920. Interestingly, the Gabilla flacon was also produced in clear crystal, again accented in gilding and used for other Gabilla scents such as Minnie in 1920.
This beautiful perfume flacon and name had inspired Jeanne Lanvin to create her own version of My Sin, complete with a similar looking bottle by Armand Rateau in 1927. She launched this perfume as Mon Péché (My Sin) in France. In 1926, Jeanne Lanvin recalled that My Sin was created by a collaboration between Firmenich and Madame Maria Zede , a "nose", an employee of Gabilla Perfumerie.
According to the book Extraordinary Origins of Everyday Things, author Charles Panati states that "capitalizing on the American desire for French perfumes, Jeanne Lanvin took her creation Mon Péché, which had failed in Paris, and in 1925 turned it into an immediate and resounding success in America under the name My Sin."
Other fragrances were offered under the Lanvin brand, many of these have been lost to time and are extremely sought after by collectors.
Chypre was a common perfume of the time, the floral Comme-Ci Comme-Ca, means "so-so", while J’en Raffole means "I'm Mad About" which no doubt referred to Lanvin herself. While La Dogaresse, meaning "The Doge's Wife" or "The Dowager" may have been a play on her marriage to an Italian and her worldly travels. No fewer than fourteen fragrances had been launched by 1925. Où Fleurit L'Oranger, Cross Country and Apres Sport followed.
The introduction of her signature, the fragrance Arpège, in 1927, inspired by the sound of her daughter Marguerite's practicing her scales on the piano. ("Arpège" is French for arpeggio.). The aldehydic Arpege, still sold today, has been called one of the best selling women's fragrances of all time, alongside the classics Chanel No. 5, Shalimar and Joy.
Ottawa Citizen, 1961:
“A new perfume launched by the French perfume and couture house of Lanvin took more than 20 years to perfect. It is called Crescendo and is described as a subtle and appealing magnolia essence. It follows five well known predecessors: My Sin, Arpege, Scandal, Pretexte and Rumeur.
The firm of Lanvin purchases one-third of the world’s entire industrial production of jasmine and rose petals. Andre Fraysse, Lanvin’s head chemist and the man who created Crescendo as well as its predecessors, has been with the firm for 35 years. The secret formula of each perfume is known only to Fraysse and the perfume company’s president.
Copies of the formulas are deposited in a sealed envelope in a bank vault. Each individual perfume contains a mixture of at least 50 different ingredients. When Fraysse dies, instructions for making the perfumes will be handed to his successor.
Fraysse, a tall , distinguished, grey haired man, immaculate as a surgeon in his white smock, is known professionally as “The Nose.”
He claims the ability to analyze and discern odors is usually a family characteristic. His father was a perfume expert in the House of Yardley, and his brother is also a perfume expert. Fraysse’s 15 year old son hopes to follow in the family’s footsteps.
In 1925, the late madame Jeanne Lanvin, founder of the couture firm, engaged Fraysse, then an unknown, to create the first Lanvin perfume. The result was My Sin, followed by Arege two years later. Crescendo is the first new perfume to be launched by Lanvin since Pretexte in 1937.
Fraysse goes to the source to buy his essential oils somewhat as a French wine taster attends the grape harvests each fall. Sandalwood comes from India, vanilla from Madagascar, certain rose essences from Bulgaria and other floral absolutes from Grasse in the south of France.”
Since 2007, parfums Lanvin are owned by Inter Parfums, while the fashion division is led by designer Alber Elbaz.