A lot has been said in the media about the Lanvin exhibition, still on at the Palais Galliera in Paris … and rightly so ! Because few fashion exhibits provide such ravishing creations. But don’t expect to find models from recent seasons : the exhibit pays homage to the house’s founder, Jeanne Lanvin, (1867-1946), through a hundred models she designed that were produced while she was still alive. And the company’s current designer, Alber Elbaz, was responsable for choosing the pieces and doing the scenography.

There have been many comments about Elbaz’s decision to present dresses laid flat in windows like “sleeping beauties”. But fortunately most are exhibited on dress forms. An ideal way to admire the perfect drapes, harmonious proportions and clever cuts of a woman who also excelled in creating, long, straight, monastic silhouettes to update crinolines with her “stylish dresses”.

There is not much lace for those seeking it in the show. We see mostly embroideries : a panel explains that Jeanne Lanvin adored her Cornely embroidery machine ! We see tulle. But mostly, we see ornamentation, lots of it, as on this velvet bathing costume (definitely another era !) that is entirely hand-embroidered with mirrored beads and Swarovski cristals. The story behind this model, named “Vogue”, is that it was worn in the 1920s by Marie-Laure de Noailles for a pool party – incredibly chic …

Wait a minute : right before the exit, what do we see ? An extraordinary dress entirely made in lace ! This “Thalassa” evening dress with its long sleeves, floor-grazing skirt and gold lamé braid layers mechanical black lace over black satin. Incredibly simple yet crazily sophisticated … and typical of the exquisite balance Jeanne Lanvin mastered so well.