Lifestyle & Culture

Virtual Museum: Jeanne Lanvin, at Home in Paris

The walls of Jeanne Lanvin’s bedroom, designed by Armand-Albert Rateau in collaboration with the fashion designer, is upholstered in silk in what came to be called “Lanvin blue.” In 1925, the fabric was embroidered in the Lanvin workrooms, but to replace faded pieces, the museum re-created the fabric and sent it to India to be embroidered, like the original, with cotton and copper thread. The daisy motif was inspired by Lanvin’s daughter, Marguerite, which is the name of the flower in French. / © MAD. Photo by Jean Tholance.



MANY OF US know Lanvin as a “brand” of classic perfumes (My Sin, Arpège). But before the fragrances was, of course, Jeanne Lanvin the early-20th-century Paris fashion designer, who went from milliner to influential couturier and expanded into home fashion and, in 1924, fragrance.

Lanvin collaborated with renowned French interior designer Armand-Albert Rateau in creating the interiors of her offices and shops—and her own Paris townhouse. When that house was about to be demolished, in 1965, Lanvin’s grandson saw to it that her private apartment was taken apart and reinstalled, complete with furnishings, at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs. At the moment, the museum is once again locked down until further notice because of the coronavirus, but its website provides excellent images of the bedroom, boudoir and bathroom of Mme. Lanvin.


Jeanne Lanvin’s boudoir, or private sitting room, stands between a terrace and the magnificent bathroom. / © MAD. Photo by Jean Tholance.




The built-ins and luxurious materials (bronze, marble, hand-embroidered fabrics re-created for the installation) make this ensemble a work of art. But it’s hardly the only one in the museum’s “collection”: There are a late-15th-century bedroom, a drawing room from 1790 and a dining room from 1920, not to mention entire rooms devoted to the evolution of seating , the move from soft-paste to hard-paste porcelain and, just simply, mahogany.

It’s not a trip into the past, or to Paris, but spending some time with Jeanne Lanvin and the other treasures of the decorative arts museum is definitely a break from the uncertain here and now.

—Nancy McKeon

Jeanne Lanvin apartment, Musée des Arts Décoratifs,

The luxurious bathroom, much of it in creamy tones of marble, exemplifies the enthusiasm for the dramatic shared by Lanvin and Rateau. In the vitrine you see the signature black ball-shape bottles of Lanvin’s Arpège perfume. / ©  MAD. Photo by Jean Tholance.


The bathtub in Jeanne Lanvin’s bathroom looks like something found in a Roman ruin, but the bas-relief sculpture on the wall around it has all the earmarks of the Art Deco period. / Photo © MAD, photo by Jean Tholance.

This chaise longue was designed by Armand-Albert Rateau for the Duchess d’Albe in 1921, but this is the one that resided on the Paris terrace of Jeanne Lanvin. It’s bronze, forged by the Bagues frères foundry. / © MAD.

This lacquered, gilded wood screen stood in the dining room of Jeanne Lanvin’s Paris home. It was designed by decorator Armand-Albert Rateau. / © ADAGP, Paris. Photo by Jean Tholance pour Les Arts Décoratifs.

4 thoughts on “Virtual Museum: Jeanne Lanvin, at Home in Paris

  1. Mary Lowengard says:

    Where’s the bidet?

    1. Nancy McKeon says:

      Hell, for that matter they don’t show a toilet either. I guess we have to assume . . .

  2. I used to spend hours roaming the rooms at the Metropolitan Museum, pretending that I lived in castles. They were always empty after school. How fantastic it would be to see this… If God had money, this is how he’d live.

  3. Nancy McKeon says:

    Drool, right?

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