"Cyclone", House of Lanvin (French, founded 1889), silk, spangles, French


Design House:
House of Lanvin (French, founded 1889)
Jeanne Lanvin (French, 1867–1946)
silk, spangles
Credit Line:
Gift of Mrs. Harrison Williams, Lady Mendl, and Mrs. Ector Munn, 1946
Accession Number:
C.I.46.4.18a, b
Not on view
This gown is part of a collection assembled and brought to New York by Mrs. Ector Munn and Mrs. Harrison Williams who, among others, chaired the American branch of the WWII French war charity, "Le Colis de Trianon-Versailles." In 1940, with the support of Lady Mendl and the Duchess of Windsor, they organized an exhibition, "Paris Openings," to raise money. The exhibition, which was held at the John Wanamaker Auditorium in New York, featured evening dresses of the women of society and were chosen either for their "hallowed memory," or if they had been worn on some "Great Occasion." They all revealed the supreme and unsurpassed craftsmanship of the couture métier in the five years leading up to World War II.

This "Cyclone" evening dress by Jeanne Lanvin was worn by her daughter the Comtesse Jean de Polignac. According to Bettina Ballard, she was a "soft beauty" who belonged more to the intimacy of the private salon than to public places of entertainment. This spectacular creation of Lanvin's was featured in the 2002–2003 exhibition "Blithe Spirit: The Windsor Set," and had not been shown in New York since its debut in 1940.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Seeds of Fashion," February 15, 1951–August 31, 1951.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Blithe Spirit: The Windsor Set," November 1, 2002–February 9, 2003.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Paris Openings, 1932–1940," November 19, 1940–February 11, 1941.

The John Wanamaker Auditorium. "Exhibition of Dresses Worn by Well-known Women of Europe and America," May 1, 1940–May 31, 1940.

John Wanamaker. "Exhibition of Dresses Worn by Well-known Women of Europe and America," June 5, 1940–July 5, 1940.