Lanvin perfumes, a French perfume company with classic, vintage perfumes, was created by Jeanne Lanvin, a fashion designer. She grew up poor, but her family knew Victor Hugo, and he gave them assistance as he could. She started working at 13 as a seamstress. As her talent grew, she moved up the ladder, eventually working in Barcelona for a time before returning to Paris and starting her own company.
Jeanne Lanvin met, married and gave birth to a daughter, who was the inspiration at a later point for Arpege’s name, commenting “it smells like an arpeggio would” when she smelled the first mod. She made clothes for her daughter Marguerite, and people wanted to know where she got them, and her reputation grew, and then she moved into designing for adult women.
Lanvin launched its first perfume in 1925, with Madame Zed as the perfumer. Eventually Andre Fraysse became the creative perfumer behind the Lanvin fragrances, joining the company in 1925. Andre was incredibly gifted; even Edmond Roudnitska believed he was the best perfumer amongst his peers. Lanvin Parfums were known for their whimsical ads full of bright colors, drawn images, and then that infamous black cat for the My Sin advertisements.
Jeanne died in 1946 at the age of 79, and the Lanvin house and perfumes passed on to several successors until it landed in the hands of L’Oreal and LVMH, who re-created Arpege. Lanvin Parfums eventually passed into the hands of Inter Parfums.
Some of the best-known original Lanvin perfumes are Mon Peche (My Sin – 1925), Arpege (1927), Scandal (1933 – amazing leather chypre), Rumeur (1934), Pretexte (1937), Crescendo (1965). You can still find the vintage formulations of these beautiful perfumes on eBay.
If you smell the modern Lanvin perfumes and then the vintage, it is hard to believe that this is the same company (sorta!) that created those perfumes. They are polar opposites.