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Claude Montana, cult fashion designer of the 80s, is dead


Highlights: Claude Montana, cult fashion designer of the 80s, is dead. The leader of the “Palace generation”, inventor of French power dressing, returned to anonymity at the end of the 1990s. Born Claude Montamat in 1947 in Paris, to a Spanish father and a German mother, he grew up in a bourgeois family of three children. “I feel Wagnerian,” he declares, “My half-Spanish, half-German blood explodes, and this translates into dramatic and haughty forms.”

The leader of the “Palace generation”, inventor of French power dressing, returned to anonymity at the end of the 1990s. He died on February 23, at the age of 76.

At the time, the 1980s, the French Federation of Couture, Ready-to-Wear and Fashion Designers organized with great fanfare the “Fashion Oscars” at the Opera.

A ceremony broadcast on mondovision “with the support of Air France and Printemps, in co-production with TF1.

A gala evening like the Palais Garnier has never known and whose star, the hero, the best among the best, in short, the winner, will have been Claude Montana,” wrote Le Figaro in 1985. That evening, the designer appeared on the arm of Cher, the star of the stars.

He is at the height of his glory.

Officially inaugurated with the election of François Mitterrand in May 1981, the golden eighties ended in November 1989, with the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Meanwhile, on the fashion side, this “money and chic” decade gave birth to fashion victims, the total look, the yuppies, the Palace... and the creators.

A host of star stylists who have made the Cour Carrée of the Louvre the epicenter of global creation thanks to their thunderous fashion shows mixing music and happenings.

On the catwalk, the girls covered in makeup, their hair fixed with a cloud of Elnett hairspray, play the role of women of power in ensembles with bigger-than-life volumes, super square shoulders, and ultra-constricted waists.

Montana is their leader.

And his shows leave no one indifferent.

The fashion editors, hysterical, compete (literally) for the first ranks (or even the others, in desperation).


Beautiful People

, the short history of contemporary Parisian fashion, journalist Alicia Drake says that “

the New York buyers (there) were sobbing

” with happiness.

There is also the testimony of Irène Silvagni, former editor-in-chief of Vogue Paris: “

I was seized by absolute panic.

When I attended Yves Saint Laurent's shows, I had the impression that he had written me a love letter, there was so much emotion.

Montana was the exact opposite.

Seeing this woman so mean, so sharp... He seemed to hate us.

» However, if Claude Montana, unofficially likes men, he adores women.

When the models arrived for fittings before the shows, when they put on the clothes and when I saw in their eyes that they felt beautiful, confident, it was my great pleasure,

” he says happily.

Born Claude Montamat in 1947 in Paris, to a Spanish father and a German mother, he grew up in a bourgeois family of three children.

His younger sister, Jacqueline, will also be his eternal accomplice and the most faithful of his collaborators.

I feel Wagnerian

,” he declares.

My half-Spanish, half-German blood explodes, and this translates into dramatic and haughty forms


As a child, the dreamy boy loved to draw and scribbled his first silhouettes in the margins of his school notebooks.

He also likes theater sets, admires the idols of the 1950s, Ava Gardner, Marlène Dietrich, Audrey Hepburn.

He observes, amazed, the outfits of his mother and his aunt “

who wore a suit like no one else,

” he writes in


, his retrospective book co-authored with journalist Marielle Cro in 2010. He cherishes the dream of an artistic career .

There is no question of it for his authoritarian father and former soldier.

So with the baccalaureate in his pocket, Claude slams the door of the family home towards London.

There he presented a collection of papier-mâché jewelry which had its small success and could boast of a publication in English Vogue.

At the end of the 1960s, back in Paris, he found a job as an assistant at Mac Douglas.

There he discovered his favorite material: leather.

Leather has strength, rigidity, power.

It fits well with my vision of women


A vision that will be revolutionary for the time.

In 1976, everything I expected, everything we all expected, fashion enthusiasts, Claude Montana brought it to us with his first collection,”

shares his friend the model Danielle Luquet de Saint Germain in the preface.

A revolution was coming, the beginnings of which had already been felt, and Claude was making the change a reality.

Linen, wool, leather, all its beautiful materials, sometimes raw, made a comeback structured by Claude's rigorous geometric cuts, always in search of ultimate perfection.


In 1979, he set up his label on rue Saint-Denis, not far from Trou des Halles and prostitutes.

Montana sends off the femininity of the Pompidou years, rejects the classic and elegant bourgeoisie to sketch a strong and independent woman.

The Montana woman has an XXL build, size XXS.

She wears striking colors.

The whole thing is ostentatious, unconventional.

The success is dazzling.

Boutiques, perfumes, and even men's fashion, everything this blond and mustachioed hunk touches turns to gold.

Always dressed in a hooded sweatshirt and bomber jackets, often blue, his favorite color, he sets up the character, strapped into the same outfit, for interviews, on the catwalks, in discotheques, in bars or at the opera .

His life lives up to his fashion, intense.

Surrounded by his gang, he spends his evenings at the Palace, then at Bains Douches.

Excesses are legion.

Parisian nights are crazy and unbridled.

Montana gets drunk without limit.

In 1989, the designer had the luxury of refusing Dior to join Lanvin.

However, his first haute couture collection was displeased.

In a huge tent set up on the Champ-de-Mars, unusual for this clientele accustomed to more confidential private salons, he has the audacity to present beaded T-shirts, gold-embroidered leather jackets, low-cut blouses and open back trench coats.

His models parade on a long stage, turn but do not return as is customary.

The young couturier hangs on, supported by his workers who are delighted to be making a revolution in such a classic house.

He is right.

The following season, Janie Samet, the critic for Le


, exclaimed in front of his fall-winter 1990-1991 collection: “

It is not Jeanne Lanvin who is resurrected, it is he who imposes himself, but in a high spirit couture that creates distance with its own ready-to-wear.

Which is exactly what was needed.

The woman he dresses here belongs to a new generation: that of the second millennium.

»Standing ovation.

Knighted, he will be rewarded with two consecutive Golden Dice.

Never seen.

But these two years were ruinous for the house which lost more than 50 million dollars in the adventure.

Montana takes the door, replaced by Dominique Morlotti.

The designer drowns his soul in even more alcohol and drugs.

Claude is Montana's worst enemy.

His depravity affects business.

If Yves Saint Laurent had Pierre Bergé to help him build an empire, Claude, also a visionary, refused to surround himself with a general director.

The fashion god is losing his footing.

Thierry Mugler's eternal rival is in decline, outdated.

When they were younger, the two former friends shared a small studio on rue de Wagram.

But the brilliant creator of the Angel perfume and director of the video for Too Funky by George Michael broadcast all day long on MTV, has taken the pop turn of show business.

From 1995, Montana was in suspension of payments.

And his name appears in the news section.

In 1996, his muse, the American model Wallis Franken, with whom he had married three years earlier, was found dead in the courtyard of their building on Rue de Lille.

Nothing will be the same again.

He sinks into lust, the bad habits acquired at the Palace.

Claude Montana sold his low-cost brand in 1997.

At the turn of the millennium, like Greta Garbo whom he admired so much as a child, he withdrew from public life to lead a reclusive existence.

Removed from the catwalks, the stylist is nothing more than a shadow of himself.

A true ghost of the Palais-Royal, he appears and disappears, rarely outside the first arrondissement of Paris where he resides.

Like this month of September 2013 when he agreed to attend a retrospective of his work, organized by Didier Ludot, famous haute couture antiques dealer based at the Montpensier gallery.

Some regulars at Nemours, a brasserie on Place Colette, could still sometimes see him at a table.

The fact remains that four decades after his glory, many of the most influential designers, from Alexander McQueen to Nicolas Ghesquière, including Riccardo Tisci and Marc Jacobs, claim to be his influence.

In 2019, the e-commerce platform Farfetch, in collaboration with vintage expert Byronesque and British fashion troublemaker Gareth Pugh, is reissuing around ten of its models.

“Claude Montana, as a visionary, redefined the aesthetics of his time,” the latter said in our columns on this occasion.

The visionary passed away at the age of 76.

Source: lefigaro

All news articles on 2024-02-23

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