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Rate the Dress: A Lanvin Robe de Style in two styles

Last week’s Rate the Dress certainly divided opinions!  You were either quite keen on tomato red with huge knee bows and mad, random Irish crochet lace with macrame-esque trim, or totally unimpressed by it.  Most of you fell into the latter camp, but there were enough of you who thought it was fabulous, and deserved a 10, to bring the rating up to a 6.3 out of 10.

(Personally, I love it just for being so utterly wacky, but it does loose a point from me for the awkward engageantes.  And it’s on my to-make list too Caroline!)

This week’s Rate the Dress is inspired by the HSF theme of Heroes, because Lanvin is definitely one of my design heroes.  As with all my heroes, I don’t feel the need to love everything Lanvin does unreservedly.  Every hero is human.  Every designer slipped up once in a while.

Designers are particularly fallible, because ultimately, they served clients, and their designs were customised to fill the wishes of the client.

Case in point: at first glance, these two Lanvin robe de style are identical.  Closer inspection reveals slight differences: one is longer in the waist, with a deeper neckline, and longer, angled sleeves, and a dipped hem.

A pair of Robe de Style, House of Lanvin (French, founded 1889), Jeanne Lanvin (French, 1867–1946), 1924–25, French, silk, C.I.56.49.1 (left), 1979.122.1 (right)

A pair of Robe de Style, House of Lanvin (French, founded 1889), Jeanne Lanvin (French, 1867–1946), 1924–25, French, silk, C.I.56.49.1 (left), 1979.122.1 (right)

Lanvin’s original design still speaks clearly in both interpretations, and without her design sketches (which I haven’t been able to find for this specific dress), we can’t know which is closer to her intentions.  Or perhaps, like me, she was just indecisive, and enjoyed being able to turn both variations into working designs!

In either case, it’s up to you to rate each dress.  Are they equal par, or do you prefer one to the other?  And what will each dresses rating say about the success of the overall design?

Rate each dress (separately) on a Scale of 1 to 10.


  1. I’m overall quite impressed with this in either format (even though either style is one I would never wear personally).

    The appliqué work is striking and reminiscent of Erté, and the squiggly-line bias binding is a subtle and unusual touch which I find quite charming. The contrast values seem to be well balanced, and the color scheme simple enough that the eye isn’t yanked around.

    I do prefer the one on the right for the most part, except for the hemline. It’s a personal preference, but a hemline dropped at the side only slightly reads to me as an error, rather than a design feature, but I don’t think the design would support a more exaggerated drop. I appreciate the flow and comfort of the dropped waist and looser sleeves, so I’ll assign 9 of 10.

    The one on the left reminds me more of the Mad Men era rather than the 1920s, and for some it may be wonderfully forward-lookiing, but it’s a style era that always makes me think more of restrictive undergarments and restrictive behavior for women, so I have a harder time appreciating design skill, so I’ll assign 8 of 10 mostly for the psychology of it all.

  2. The one on the right is my choice. It just looks more balanced, more elegant and more resolved overall. The deeper black hem and lower waist just work better. I also MUCH prefer the slightly longer sleeves with the extra pink rouleaux around the bottom, they make it all more resolved. Oh, and the wider, deeper neckline (but retaining the same tulle inner neckline) is NICE.

    The other is cute, but after seeing the other one, you just see it as more girlish, more modest and covered-up, more ingenue, and more Debbie Dimplecheeks. It’s still cute, but with the more natural waist, straight hem, and higher neckline, it feels like little sister forced to dress just like big sister, but not EXACTLY like big sister.

    I think the one on the right is pretty much spot on. Can’t really fault it. 10/10. The one on the left, 7.5/10, sorry, mainly for the proportions not being as perfectly resolved.

    • Elise says

      You really did describe how I feel. The one on the right gets a 10/10 for utter perfection. The girlie-girl one on the right…maybe a 7? Perhaps I got spoiled by seeing them both together–but it really is neat! It’s as if a 16-year old is attending her first outing, but her prudish aunt made her cover up, and so Lanvin made adjustments.

    • Yeah, I know! I’m generally a lot better with weird fringe. It’s the stuff that looks like it inspired the 1950s faux 20s dresses that inspired the terrible fringe ‘flapper’ costume dresses that I can’t deal with.

  3. Both dresses remind me of little girls’ party dresses. However, the longer-waisted dress with the deeper neckline and the dipped hem (the one on the right), rises above the “party dress” category and by virtue of those changes becomes something more interesting. A 5 for the dress on the left, and a 7.5 for the one on the right.

  4. Birdmommy says

    I also prefer the dress on the right. I can picture a grown woman wearing it, while the dress on the left looks like it’s for a pre-teen.

    8/10 for the dress on the right, and 6/10 for its little sister.

  5. M.K. Carroll says

    The details are wonderful – there is a hand-illustrated feeling to the embroidery and appliqué and the lovely swooping lines that is sweet and cheerful without being cloying. I think the “little sister” comments are accurate, and would think of the one on the left as being for younger girls and the one on the right for someone just entering womanhood (however one wants to describe that). The neckline on the right is too wide and low for a child during this period.

    9/10 for the one on the left and 8/10 for the one on the right (it loses a point for the sleeves feeling too overdone, which detracts from the drape and cut).

  6. Hm, I like the style in front better–the details say Robe de Style more to me than the back one. In particular, the longer waist, longer sleeves, high low hem, and the gathers that are distributed to have a flatter look at the front all say 20s to me. I give that one a 9. I would certainly wear it and like the details, though I’m not madly in love with it. The one in the back looks more like a 50s dress or a folk inspired dress, with the different proportions and equally gathered skirt. I still like it, but give it an 8 instead of a 9. To be fair, if these were intended for different body shapes they might have both been flattering and had the correct 20s shape. Hard to know at this point!

  7. Natalie Ramirez says

    Wow! These are so pretty. The one on the right is far superior from a fashion standpoint. It is perfect and gorgeous. That being said, it one of those dresses that I would fall in love with but never be able to wear. I’m short and short waisted. The dress on the left would suit my figure better if only the neckline was lower like the one on the right.

  8. Natalie Ramirez says

    Ack! Forgot my score. Right gets 10 out of 10 and left gets 8 out of 10.

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