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VM choice: Lanvin's perfect symmetry in butterflies

Lanvin’s Paris Rue Faubourg flagship store has a lovely window at present. Focusing on the precise symmetry of the butterfly, garments and accessories are arrayed as collectors’ items in shallow cabinets.

With the merchandise secured by giant pins - see the chain and tassels to the right of the handbag -  the shallow niche boxes created by the gold-edged cabinets perfectly display the merchandise, adorned with a selection of mounted butterflies.

So perfect are the butterflies that it was not until I examined their bodies in detail that it became clear these were perfect specimens, not faux-flutterbys.


Lanvin’s window is a classic example of symmetry attracting attention through its still perfection. It also suggests, of course, that Lanvin merchandise should be collected as perfect examples of craftsmanship by fashion lepidopterists. The inclusion of the simple, centred, gold brand name in its serif font on the glass below each cabinet underlined the collectors’ precision.

The Surrealist art movement of the early 20th century was hugely fond of the butterfly. The perfect symbol of transformation, the butterfly in its progression from egg, to caterpillar, to cocoon, to butterfly was a natural synonym for fashion change, reflecting its power to effect transformation.

Butterflies have, partly for this reason and partly because of their spectacular and ephemeral colours and patterns, long been a reoccurring motif for VM. Suggesting that the merchandise should be collected too is a nice twist.