By  on February 26, 2014

Behind a nondescript door marked 313 on the third floor of Lanvin’s corporate offices at 16 Rue Boissy d’Anglas in Paris is a well-kept secret: the office of Jeanne Lanvin, impeccably preserved almost as she left it in 1946 when she died. At one end of the room is a large, L-shaped ebony desk, a small side table of Scandal and Arpège perfume bottles and examples of the original Lanvin packaging from the Twenties. At the other is a three-way mirror set on rolling castors to maximize the light and angles while Lanvin did fittings, which were held in her office until the end of her career.

The space is usually closed to all but its curators, but in honor of Lanvin’s 125th anniversary, the house is offering a rare glimpse into its founder’s workspace, with archivist Laure Harivel hosting small tours this week for a select few. The contents of the room paint a fascinating portrait of Lanvin, a woman well ahead of her time in fashion and lifestyle. It was decorated in collaboration with two interior designers: first, Armand-Albert Rateau, to whom Lanvin was introduced by Paul Poiret in the Twenties; and Eugene Printz, who gave it a modernist update in the Thirties. Rateau was responsible for the side tables and scroll-back chairs, replications of which Alber Elbaz requested for the stores, while Printz did the ebony desk, mirror and extensive library. Wall-to-wall bookshelves are filled with research materials and scrapbooks from Lanvin’s travels to Amsterdam, Barcelona, Pisa, Venice and Florence, where she discovered the source of inspiration for the signature Lanvin blue in a Fra Angelico painting.

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