Sunday, 31 July 2011

Jeanne Lanvin’s apartment in Paris

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Jeanne Lanvin’s apartment on 16 rue Barbet-de-Jouy decorated by Armand-Albert Rateau in the 1920s was a lavishly Art Deco styled heaven of femininity.

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The strong cornflower blue colour of the silk-upholstered walls was inspired by the skies of a Fra Angelico fresco that Lanvin adored and was later referred to as “Lanvin Blue”. Another symbolic and very personal touch was a daisy motif that Rateau added to a hand embroidered border of white flowers and leaves.

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The black and cream marble bathroom filled with hand-crafted details, from the carved sink, the mosaic floor, cast bronze hardware to the most stunning plaster decoration was a true example of Rateau’s passion for eclectic styles of Babylon, Pompeii and ancient Rome as well as his superior skills as a decorator.

Although the entire Jeanne Lanvin's home was taken down in 1965, the complete decoration and furniture of the boudoir, bedroom and bathroom was saved and given to the Musée des Arts Décoratifs by Prince Louis de Polignac where the rooms were lovingly reassembled in 1985 and opened for visitors.

Photo sources: Lanvin by Elisabeth Barille, fashionweekdaily, corbis images

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Lanvin dresses in fashion editorials

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It’s the first time I changed the usual “Weekend Sign Off” title for a themed one for the love of Lanvin and fashion.

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Just as I did with Diane von Furstenberg purple Avram dress, I’m dedicating this Saturday post to three Lanvin dresses from the Spring 2011 collection.

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As Alber Elbaz said, some dresses are created for women and the others – for fashion editorials. So far I’ve spotted five looks from the collection that made it to the pages of fashion magazines and these particular stunning forget-me-nots seem to be stylists’ most favourite pieces.

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Photo sources: elle.com, Vogue US April 2011, Vogue Nippon 2011, Vogue Japan March 2011, Vogue Italia February 2011, The Sunday Telegraph Spring 2011, Nuyou Singapore April 2011, Vogue Paris May 2011, Lanvin Campaign Spring/Summer 2011, Elle Bulgaria August 2011, Marie Claire Greece April 2011, Elle UK February 2011, Air France Madame April 2011, Marie Claire US March 2011, Numero 123 2011, Vogue Hellas July 2011, Vogue Spain may 2011, Harpers Bazaar UK 2011, Grey magazine Spring 2011, Vogue US January 2011, Harper’s Bazaar Russia May 2011, Nuyou Singapore April 2011, Vogue Paris February 2011, Vogue China March 2011

Friday, 29 July 2011

Jeanne Lanvin

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Unlike Coco Chanel, Paul Poiret or Elsa Schiaparelli, Jeanne Lanvin was a very private person – she would rather stay on background than dissolve herself into the lights of fame and social glamour. Dressed in black, she was more keen on concentrating on her designs and communicating with fabrics rather than people.

She began working very early. 13-year old Jeanne was helping dressmakers with their orders. She used to run around Paris by foot instead of paying tickets fees and was nicknamed 'The Little Omnibus'.

At the age of 18 she finished her apprenticeship as a milliner with “Madame Felix” at 15 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honore and set up her own atelier in an attic in Rue du Marche Saint-Honore. She had the passion, unique talent, energy, enormous potential, capital of one gold louis and a client.

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She also run some study courses and it was during one of them at the Longchamp race course when she met her future husband, the Italian aristocrat Emilio di Pietro. The marriage lasted for 8 years (they married in 1895 and divorced in 1903) and the best thing about it was the birth of their little daughter, Marie-Blanche, Comtesse de Polignac or simply Marguerite or “Ririte” as Lanvin lovingly nicknamed her.

Marguerite was the inspiration and driving force behind Lanvin’s designs. Jeanne Lanvin created the looks of eternal youth, so that her daughter was the most beautiful woman in the world. Designing dream outfits that her daughter could wear gave Lanvin a chance to relive her own life as she’d always dreamed of. The life she had to sacrifice to her work.

According to Louise de Vilmorin, an authority on society psychology Jeanne Lanvin “dazzled everyone with her work, but she did it for the sake of dazzling her daughter.”

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While Jeanne Lanvin as a mother enjoyed taking care of her baby girl, the business woman in her saw the birth as an inspiration and opportunity for a new venture – a line of children’s clothes. What started as a few dresses, turned into the most gorgeous wardrobe ever worn by a child – simple but luxurious clothes, from dresses to coats to jackets, gloves and hats made with the most beautiful fabrics and embroidered by hand. The haute couture pieces that were wearable and allowed a child to move and breathe freely attracted a well-deserved attention and suddenly became all the rage among Parisiennes so much so that Lanvin had to add a children’s department to her already successful ladies’ one.

The line became the essence of Lanvin.

In 1909 Jeanne Lanvin joined the Syndicat de la Couture and continued working on her collections that remained highly popular and in demand through the war times.

In her book Elisabeth Barille wrote, “In 1918 she took over the whole building at 22 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honore. It included two workrooms for semi-tailored clothes, two for tailored ones, one for lingerie, one for hats, one that was used as a design studio, and two that were given over to embroidery; the latter was a speciality which Lanvin, unlike other couturiers, did not entrust to outside workers.

Her office was more of a connoisseur's study than a dress designer's studio, full of thousands of treasures gleaned from around the world by someone with a sensitive, resourceful and enquiring mind. There were sculptures, books, jewels, as well as an astonishing collection of fabrics and clothes; among them Indian saris, Persian silks, mandarins' robes, Breton waistcoats, embroidered African tunics and Coptic embroideries. It was a priceless booty, meticulously labelled and catalogued with bibliophile's obsessive care; Lanvin even called it her fabric library. By giving it an air of mystery, she gave it a life of its own. She was like a bee, tasting everything in order to make her exceptionally delicious honey.”

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In 1927 she launched her first perfume, “Arpege”, inspired by Marguerite practising her scales on the piano. The fragrance created by Andre Fraysse contained beautiful flower notes of Bulgarian rose, jasmine from Grasse, honey suckle, bergamot, neroli, vanilla and lily-of-the valley. The bottle, spherical La Boule perfume flacon, was designed by Armand-Albert Rateau, a decorator introduced to Lanvin by Paul Poiret when she needed someone to decorate the interior of her home in the Rue Barbet-de-Jouy. Both, the designer and decorator, shared an enormous love for beauty, luxurious materials and classic forms, although Rateau could never fully share Lanvin’s love for eternal youth and lightness and preferred eclectic designs of Babylon, Knossos and Pompeii.

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Lanvin fashion empire was flourishing. In the times of Art Deco she insisted that “modern clothes need a certain romantic feel” and continued creating dresses with a timeless appeal.

“When you are constantly thinking about new designs everything you see is transformed and adapted to whatever is in hand. The process happens naturally and becomes an instinct, a truth, a necessity, another language”, she said.

She designed for women, but she also created stage clothes for no less than 17 shows in just one year.

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Her clothes were about perfection. She chose the fabrics, then developed her own colour schemes and even built a dyeing works in 1923 to achieve the subtle inimitable shades she was after. She used pieces of mica, coral, minute shells, gold and silver threads, ribbons and raffia along side of pearls and sequins, so that the beading would match the fabric, the mood and the motif.

Her embroideries often included a daisy or heart representing Lanvin’s love for her daughter. There were also a knot, bay, ivy or olive leaf as well as art deco rose or rose petals.

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Once she said: ”A design inevitably reflects the artistic motifs stored in one's memory, drawing on those which are the most alive, new and fertile all at the same time”.

Jeanne Lanvin died on 6 July 1946, aged 79 leaving us with a stunning collection of her works and invaluable lessons about freedom and a fresh approach when it comes to fashion and life.

The story is based on the book Lanvin by Elisabeth Barille 

Photo sources: same as before and google image search

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Alber Elbaz: I spend my day perfecting a dress

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I always wear a dinner jacket. I never have this definition of what goes for the morning or the evening or what works for the weekend. I like having the freedom to dress as I desire. But yes, I do wear a dinner jacket for dinner. I like to respect that sort of dress code although I often machine-wash my tuxedo so it looks very mucked-up and I will wear a bow tie, but I don't do it perfectly because I don't know how to do that knot, so I do it my way.

Usually, I spend my day perfecting a dress rather than perfecting myself. Thank God I don't have to look like a model to promote my work, because that would be a catastrophe. Nobody would buy anything! I'm behind the scenes. I could be on a diet of leaves and go to the gym 17 times a week if I really wanted it, but what I really want to do is my work. But I have asked myself: if I had a different look, would I design differently? And I think I would. I think the fact that I never feel perfect and I never feel beautiful and I never feel skinny makes me search for lightness and beauty, because these are what I feel I am missing. I always go for whatever I think I don't have.

If I wasn't a designer I would love to be a doctor. That is my fantasy, my dream. A doctor will give you a tablet if you have a headache and I will give you a dress and we both make you feel good.

The name I was born with is Albert, with a 't'. I lost the 't' because I moved to New York and I thought, it just doesn't sound good, 'Albert', not pronounced like at home, 'Alber', so I took off the 't' and got into coffee so I could live in New York, though now I live in Paris. In Judaism, in Kabbalah, which we studied in school, every letter has a power. By changing your name, you might change your life and when I took that letter out, my life did change. I was introduced to a rhythm, a speed I never had before.

When I was in kindergarten in Tel Aviv, I didn't do any drawings of aeroplanes, only dresses, and my mother asked the teacher if that was OK and the teacher said, 'Let him do it'. Is my mother an influence? You know, there would be an interesting survey on designers and their mothers. Mine - her name is Alegria - is an elegant woman but it's not like one of those stories of, 'Oh, my mother had this beautiful sable coat from Christian Dior and she wore it in Switzerland'.

My father, who was a hair colourist, died when I was young so my mother had to work very hard. But at the same time, I do believe that if you have everything, it is easy to make a dinner. When you only have flour and water and olives and potatoes, you have to be much more creative and that's what my mother is all about. She had very little but from nothing she always made something.

Some of my clothes I keep forever. I have a pair of blue shoes by Dries van Noten I wore to a meeting that changed my career. They are still my lucky shoes. But mostly I wear black. I work by looking at what I am creating in the mirror and I want to stay in the shadows. I keep my clothes for a long time. I'm not changing every season any more than I am designing a new collection and throwing the last one out. I have things I have worn again and again, but over the years, I alter them, I make them longer, shorter, I change the armhole, I change the shoulder. One of my biggest fears is arriving to the airport and checking in my suitcase because I never know if I will get it back, and I wear the same clothes, you see, day and night, winter and summer.

As to seeing women in my designs, of course I get excited. I'm not a blasé guy. I'm not taking things for granted. I'm not on a high from my own work or anything, I'm very realistic; I work and I know what I create has to go from my studio to a certain reality check.

The easiest thing would be to name some celebrity, but it is very impressive if someone wants something to wear to the Oscars. Of course it is like, 'Wow!' But I get the same thrill when I am in the boutique and I see a woman and she looks good and she looks at herself in a different way; then it is no longer about the dress but how she feels. That touches me and it moves me.

Have I had tough times? I believe in karma and I believe things happen for a reason. Ghandi said that at the end of our lives we will be sorry only for what we have not done. So if you do a lot, you go through a lot. I take nothing for granted and today I know things happened for a reason and it pushed me to a better place. At the time [of being fired from YSL] I was sorry. I am grateful now.

I think this is a fascinating time in design. Vintage is over. This is going to be a very important moment in fashion because we cannot just reproduce; we did the Twenties already, we did the Thirties, the Fifties, the Sixties, up to the Nineties. Instead, we have to think. We have to start inventing again.

This article was written by Marion Hume for The Observer’s How I get dressed series. The title of the original article was changed by me based on one of his quotes from the interview.

Photo source: The Observer Woman January 2007

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Stylish quote

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If clothes look beautiful on the hangers they won’t necessarily look beautiful on the body. And that clothes which may not look good on the hanger, may look good on the body. Mr Geoffrey Beene once told me that fashion is not what’s on the back or the front of a coat but what’s in between.”

Alber Elbaz

Photo & quote source: i-D spring 2010

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Beautiful reign of Alber Elbaz

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“A woman told me that every time she wears Lanvin, men fall in love with her.”

Alber Elbaz

Lets continue the Lanvin week with a gorgeous retrospective of some of the most beautiful and memorable looks from every ready-to-wear fashion show that made women feel weak at the knees, every heart – skip a beat and every man – fall in love with a woman in Lanvin.

When you look at these clothes, you understand that Lanvin isn’t just about elegance and femininity, but about the timeless chic and unique personalities expressed through artfully crafted garments.

Truly, smart girls invest in Lanvin.

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Fall 2002

“This was an optimistic start to a new chapter in Elbaz's career and he was loudly applauded for it.” style.com

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Spring 2003

“A rare vision of luxurious dressing, balancing luster with rawness in a grown-up, wearable way.” style.com

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Fall 2003

“Crafted with extraordinary skill, the collection was another step in the re-evaluation of charm and luxury that is shaping up as fashion’s newest movement.” style.com

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Spring 2004

“Close up, there were many extraordinary items; but now Elbaz needs to mould and edit his technique to an image that's completely satisfying.” style.com

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Fall 2004

“Alber Elbaz has been putting an inordinate amount of thought into making his vision of glamorous dressing an easy, relevant proposition for modern women.” style.com

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Spring 2005

“A beautifully shaded demonstration of Elbaz's growing insight into how lovely can also mean realistic.” style.com

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