A new Jeanne Lanvin exhibition which has opened in Paris at the Palais Galliera showcases a stunning portrait of the designer,through 0ver 100 creations . Olivier Saillard, the museum’s general curator worked closely with Alber Elbaz, Lanvin’s Creative Director since 2001. .
To see the maison’s codes take shape – the inclusion, for instance, of the gilded dolls depicting Lanvin with her daughter Marguerite that would become the house logo in 1924 – is to realise how the brand is the sum total of personal stories. Even the signature blue, which became the official company colour in 1921, comes with a story. Saillard, in a text found in the catalogue, notes Lanvin’s point of differentiation from her female contemporaries: ‘Lanvin was the first to give overall thought to lifestyle.’
Visitors peer into chic mirrored vitrines outlined in black; deliberate or not, they evoke the grosgrain that is now inextricably linked to the Lanvin aesthetic. Dresses from 80 years back appear remarkably contemporary, with ornamentation expressed judiciously and feminine silhouettes redefined with soigné ease. But Lanvin was also highly influenced by graphic impact and travel and her prime years coincided with a high period in Art Deco (in fact, her dresses often debuted at the international exhibitions in Paris – arguably a far more impressive platform than a salon presentation).
Saillard, for his part, does acknowledge the through-line between both talents, pointing out that they share a ‘taste for discretion’. Similarly, Albaz has referred to the retrospective as a ‘whispering exhibition’. And as you observe the subtlety of such impressive detailing evolve over several decades, you understand precisely what he means.
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