EST. 2009

May 9, 2013

That Arpège

"A DESIGN INEVITABLY REFLECTS the artistic motifs stored in one's memory, drawing on those which are the most alive, new and fertile all at the same time." Assouline's Lanvin by Élisabeth Barillé presents Jeanne Lanvin as a traveler and aesthete who gathered immense inspiration for her various motifs. Her office alone was said to have housed "thousands of treasures" ranging from sculptures and jewels to a meticulously catalogued library of clothing and fabric.

But beyond her marvelous material legacy, one encounters Jeanne Lanvin as an adoring mother whose greatest inspiration -that which seemed most alive, new and fertile to her- came from a much closer, more personal source.

Marie-Blanche, Comtesse de Polignac, Marguerite or "Ririte" as she called her, was Jeanne Lanvin's only child, who, from youth, served as her muse. For the little comtesse, the designer made exquisite dresses that rose to so much popularity, society women began not only ordering copies for their daughters but also dresses for themselves.

Beyond clothing, Marie-Blanche continued to inspire other areas of her mother's craft. The arpèges, or scales, she practiced on the piano led to the fashion house's hit scent Arpège, which also features on its bottle, the brand's trademark graphic: Jeanne Lanvin and Marie-Blanche dressing for a ball.

With Mother's Day being celebrated in many countries this week, I send out my heartfelt admiration to mothers everywhere, whose devotion to loving and doting knows no bounds. And to all of us fortunate muses, comtesses, prides, joys, apples of the eye, et al., may we always strive to be beautiful in the ways it matters most. We are, after all, our mothers' best designs.

Lanvin by Èlisabeth Barillé, Assouline Publishing.