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August 31 2014

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Truly Vintage Lanvin, On Display In Paris

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Fashion-minded visitors at the Biennale des Antiquaires, which opened to the public today in Paris and runs through September 23, tend to beeline to the haute joaillerie. Mere paces away from the Cartier booth, however, a Parisian gallery has put together something genuine fashion wonks might prefer: a re-creation of an installation that Jeanne Lanvin commissioned in 1925.

Lanvin, who loved the theater, had her interior designer, A.A. Rateau, create an Art Deco dressing room for an exhibition that year at the Grand Palais. She also added a live model—wearing Lanvin, naturellement—to the tableau. The owners of Galerie Mathivet didn’t, but they did (somewhat miraculously) manage to get their hands on the dress. According to Céline Mathivet, Alber Elbaz generously let them borrow it after about six months of back-and-forth. The floral metallic number has only been out of the Lanvin archives once in recent history, for an exhibition in 2007 at the city’s Galliera Musée de la Mode.

The Mathivets are displaying the metallic dress behind a Plexiglas screen (pictured)—no touching!—and it’s the one thing in their authentic mock-up that’s not for sale. As historic as it is, the exhibit is a testament to the staying power of Art Deco, particularly at the level at which Mme. Lanvin engaged it. To this day, the house’s signature Arpège fragrance comes in a vessel that’s for all intents and purposes the original “boule noire” Rateau designed in the twenties. And the leopard-print sculpted armchair in the center of the room looks as desirable as ever—especially for anyone suffering from Biennale bling fatigue.

Photo: Joe Schildhorn / BFAnyc.com

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Dept. of Culture