Inside Paris’s Sweeping New Jeanne Lanvin Exhibition

PARIS— After the Lanvin show here on Thursday night, Alber Elbaz carried on celebrating at the opening of the Jeanne Lanvin exhibition at Paris’s Palais Galliera. The retrospective, which features more than 100 archive pieces, examines Lanvin and the glory days of haute couture — namely, the ’20s and the ’30s. “If I had to explain what haute couture is, or what French elegance was during the ’20s and ’30s, I would present some dresses from Lanvin,” said the exhibition’s curator, Olivier Saillard, who welcomed the fashion crowd alongside Elbaz at the opening. “It is so unique and chic, and there is something very discrete about it; something timeless.”

Before Coco Chanel, Jeanne Lanvin was the female force in fashion, having launched her couture house in 1889. She started one of the very first luxury lifestyle brands — at the time, la maison Lanvin incorporated hats, children’s clothes, and even furnishings.


Of focus in this particular exhibition is a catalogue of exquisite dresses — mostly eveningwear — that, even today, look astoundingly modern. There are silk dresses from the mid-’20s embroidered with glass beads that could easily be mistaken for one of Elbaz’s contemporary pieces.

Not to miss in the exhibition is a small room that serves as a shrine to Lanvin’s famous robe de style, the dress with the bouffant skirt that became the famed silhouette of the maison.

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