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Elegance, Femininity, Modernity

Parisian-born designer Jeanne Lanvin had the vision, ambition, and inspiration to build not just a fashion house, but an empire. At age thirteen she delivered hats for a milliner, then became a milliner’s apprentice, and at twenty-two opened her own hat shop. When Lanvin was thirty, she gave birth to her daughter Marguerite, who served as her muse for her entire life. Lanvin began making clothes for Marguerite, and as customers continually asked to buy replicas for their own children, she launched the first children’s fashion line in 1908. From there, Lanvin expanded into women’s wear, lingerie, wedding gowns, and even decor. In 1926, she was the first to offer a made-to-measure menswear line and in 1933 created the first mixed eau de toilette. At its peak, the Lanvin empire employed nearly 1,200 people around the world. 

This medieval-style wedding dress was worn by its donor, Janet Lawrence, when she married Robert McCormick Adams on May 3, 1924, at St. James Episcopal Church in Chicago. Its sleeves and overskirt feature alternating bands of silk crepe and net, each separated by a row of pearls. Panels of silk crepe and lamé loop over the shoulders and extend to the wrists, adding to the gown’s dramatic, high priestess look. The bride’s mother ordered the gown from Lanvin in Paris through Madame Marguerite Pick’s Michigan Avenue salon in Chicago. A sketch of this dress was featured in American Vogue. See it up close.

Wedding dress by Jeanne Lanvin, 1924. From left: CHM, ICHi-063620, ICHi-063615, ICHi-063618, ICHi-063619

During these unique times of social distancing, life’s big moments should still be big—even with a small group. Our new petite wedding package includes use of our classic Georgian-style venue, our plaza nestled in Lincoln Park, chairs, tables with linen, a sparkling toast, and various à la carte options. The Chicago History Museum has seen many historic occasions and now we’re ready for yours! Learn more.

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