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The eldest of a modest family of eleven children, Jeanne Lanvin was born in Paris on January 1, 1867. From an early age, her independence and strength of character foretold an extraordinary fate for little Jeanne.

At the age of thirteen, Jeanne earned her first wages working for a milliner on rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré. Responsible for delivering hats all over Paris by omnibus, Jeanne preferred to follow behind the vehicle in order to save the cost of a ticket. Nicknamed the "Little Omnibus," she had already gotten herself noticed and quickly worked her way up the ladder.