The oldest french couture house, founded in 1889 by Jeanne Lanvin, is today a reference for the Parision industry of luxury, from fashion to perfumes and accessories.
Jeanne Lanvin died in 1946; her daughter continued the business after her death. Designer Antonio del Castillo, arriving in 1950, attempted to adapt to the house image. His Spanish background influenced his choice of brighter colors, light and heavy combinations of fabrics, and more severe, sophisticated styles. He remained until 1962.
In 1963 Jules-Francois Crahay, a Belgian designer, took over the reins of the house, and remained till 1984.
In 1982 Maryll Lanvin, the third generation of the Lanvin family, started designing for the house.
In 1989 Orcofi and L'Oreal, in a joint venture, together purchased Lanvin, one of the world's oldest fashion and fragrance houses. Over the years, L'Oreal—itself partially owned by Gesparal, which in turn was partly owned by Nestlé S.A.—slowly bought out Orcofi, and Lanvin became a part of the L'Oreal stable (until sold in 2001 to Harmonie SA), which includes such companies and brand names as Maybelline, Redken, Biotherm, Cacharel, Lancôme Paris, Le Club des Créatures de Beaut, and Vichy Labs.
During the 90's in addition to presenting his own collections, Claude Montana has also been designing for Lanvin.
Giorgio Armani also designed for a while.
From 1997 to 2001 Christina Ortiz was the chief designer for haute couture. From 1997 to 2001 Lanvin's ready-to-wear collections were being designed by ex-Versace, ex-Herve Leger designer Ocimar Versolato.
In August 2001 an investor group led by Shaw Lan Wang, a Taiwanese media baroness, took over the house of Lanvin.
They appointed Israeli-born designer Elber Albaz as the new creative director of Lanvin. His first collection was Fall 2002. Alber has become much beloved by Lanvin clientele. He uses not only black, or the white he chose when Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garcons asked him to participate in her London store, but also vivid satins in parakeet green or fuchsia, or a bright red trench coat. He says that his boss offers him freedom and respect so that he can mix sportswear with couture grace, comfort with elegance.
In 2001 Lanvin introduced its 26th fragrance, called Oxygene, "the first," according to Christophe Toumit, general director of Lanvin Parfums, "since Arpége to come to America." So, more than half a century after her death, Jeanne Lanvin's legacy continues to grow.
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, and he has conducted his responsibilities in a highly personal, hands-on manner. 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.
Her work was easily recognizable by her skilful use of embroidery, and her fine craftsmanship. She used a particular shade of blue so often, that it came to be called "Lanvin Blue". For Jeanne Lanvin, women were meant to wear clothes of unabashed feminity, in colours that were pretty, and whose shapes had a "young girl" look. She set the mood with narrow empire-wasted dresses and long trailing sleeves. The fabrics that she used were silk, taffeta, velvet, silk chiffon, organza, lace, tulle, etc. She used a lot of free-flowing ribbons, ruffles, flowers, lace, mirrors, etc., and liked ornamentation like applique, couching, quilting, parallel stitching, and embroidery.
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