Long before mothers and daughters were “twinning” on Instagram and Facebook by wearing matching outfits, French designer Jeanne Lanvin was creating complementary ensembles for the pair, and making haute couture accessible to mums and their little girls.
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In 1897, Lanvin gave birth to her only child Marguerite at the age of 30. She was completely smitten with her “Ririte” and one of the ways she expressed her love was by channeling her exquisite sewing skills and flair for design into her child’s wardrobe.
Marguerite’s clothes were not like those of the average child. Her dresses were made of the best materials, like silk, crepes and delicate laces, and had sophisticated cuts and colours that would usually be seen in adult women’s clothing. Executed flawlessly by her designer mother, Marguerite’s clothes soon caught the attention of Lanvin’s clients. Their encouragement and a large number of private order requests gave Lanvin the idea of turning her passion for children’s haute couture into a luxury business.
At the time, high-fashion children’s wear was unheard of and Lanvin was the first to create the niche in the fashion industry.
In the 1930s, when Britain’s Queen Elizabeth (the current Queen Mother) requested an order for party dresses for herself and the princesses Elizabeth (the current Queen) and Margaret, Lanvin sent it to them, along with two dolls wearing identical dresses. It became a tradition with her mother-daughter dress sets that just helped to elevate the dresses’ desirability.
According to a 2016 article in the Yale University Press Blog, many years later, Marguerite admitted that as a child, she often hated being dressed up and shown off. However, as an adult, her mother’s creations were her favourite clothes and she was even married in a Lanvin dress in 1917.
The mother-daughter duo remained close until 1946, when Lanvin passed away at age 79. Her devotion to Marguerite is forever honoured in the Maison Lanvin logo, which was designed in 1923 and shows the silhouette of a mother and daughter in matching dresses at a costume ball. The logo endures even today, as a symbol of timeless love, from a devoted mother to her daughter.
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