The 1920’s were an interesting times in Paris, especially where fashion was concerned. World War I had ended and the devastating effects of the Depression were a long way off. Paul Poiret, who had helped liberate women on the fashion stage, was on the way out and Chanel was in. le garcons ruled, with her shapeless body and shingled hair dancing the Charleston and drinking cocktails.
All the couturiers adopted this look, except one! The amazing Jeanne Lanvin, whose signature look was the “robe de style”. Other couture houses such as Callot Soeurs and Lucille had their own versions, however none were as successful as Lanvin’s. This was an alternative to the rather shapeless, straight cut chemise which was the height of fashion. Lanvin’s “robe de styles” were characterised by full skirts, with a dropped waist and fitted bodice. Petticoats, panniers and hoops emphasised the fullness of the skirts. These were then further embellished with intricate trimmings and extraordinary embroideries.
This was a look for a woman who did not have the figure to wear the tubular lines of the likes of Chanel or Patou. This was couture with an historical reference, harking back to the Infanta dresses of Spain. It was meant for afternoon teas, and tango dancing in the park; a kind of a cocktail, semi-formal ensemble. Lanvin made hundreds of variations on “the robe de style”; each one possesses its own unique charm.
Of course Lanvin produced fabulous outfits in keeping with the times and just did not limit herself the “robe de style”, however these stand apart to the savoir faire that Lanvin had.