Pronounciation Is Key: Hermès, Christian Lacroix, Lanvin

As I was walking along Bloor Street today on my way to the Greta Constantine Trunk Show at Holt Renfrew I passed a family of tourists in front of the Hermès store and overheard a female in the group say, “Oh. Er-mees!”

Now I’ve mispronounced designer names before – I struggled with Ralph Lauren for far too long – and like my massacre of his name she butchered Hermès by trying to sound cultured and dropping the ‘h’ but still failing miserably.

So in this posting I’ll breakdown the correct pronunciation of Hermès as well as help out with two names that we’ve been hearing a lot about – Christian Lacroix and Lanvin.


Thierry Hermès

French design house Hermes was founded in Paris by Thierry Hermès, a saddle and harness maker, in 1837.  Initially the design house made harnesses for royalty and the upper-class and eventually Thierry added saddles boots, jewelry, home decor items and the legendary Hermès silk scarf.  When his son Charles-Emile took the reins of the label (no pun intended) he added luggage to the repertoire (does ‘Birkin’ and ‘Kelly’ ring any familiar bells? It should).  The couture line was founded in 1920 under his son Charles-Emile and closed in 1952 though the house continues to make women’s and men’s ready-to-wear.

Now for the pronunciation.  Hermès is pronounce ‘air-maze’.

Christian Lacroix

Christian Lacroix

The designer Christian Lacroix was born in Arles, France  in 1951 and is known for his theatrical, dramatic couture styles.  While his design label is suffering from some financial difficulties we all hope not to lose such an amazing, dedicated talent.

Though the letters in Lacroix’s last name may look confusing the pronunciation is rather easy.  ‘Lacroix’ is pronounced ‘lah-cwa’.


Jeanne Lanvin

Lanvin, the oldest Parisian fashion house, was founded in 1889 by Jeanne Lanvin who began her fashion career at 13 as a milliner’s apprentice.  After designing children’s clothes for her daughter and her friends she decided to start her own business in Paris.  Jeanne became known for her intricate trimmings, superb embroideries and beaded decorations in clear, light, floral colors.

Jeanne is pronounce ‘zhon’ while Lanvin is pronounced ‘lahn-vahn’ with a very soft ‘n’ at the end of ‘vin’.

If there is any pronunciation that you would like explained feel free to email me at



About Septembre

Septembre Anderson is a passionate journalist, cultural critic and public intellectual. Her work has appeared in Flare, FASHION Magazine,, Complex Canada, Vice Canada and Huffington Post Canada.
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3 Responses to Pronounciation Is Key: Hermès, Christian Lacroix, Lanvin

  1. Pingback: Pronounciation Is Key: Hermès, Christian Lacroix, Lanvin (via J’adore…) « ANGELAS

  2. Angèle Masters DeFriece says:

    As a girl with an accent grave on the first “e” in her name, who constantly has people mispronounce it, I offer thanks for the attempt to educate people. However, an accent grave is pronounced with an “eh” sound, not an “ay” sound (like in “maze”). An accent aigu, (which points in the opposite direction, top toward the end of the word), is pronounced with the “ay” sound. So, “Hermès” is pronounced “air-mez”.
    I love language, and I love this article 🙂

    • Septembre says:

      Thank you for your comment. I too have received a French education (my name is Septembre after all) and I have explained to many readers (by email) since I published this post in June of 2009 that the issue is not with my pronunciation but with the way that I described the word phonetically. But thank you for clarifying for other readers that did not get this explanation.

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