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Claude Montana


Claude Montana was born in Paris in 1937 to a Spanish mother and a German father. At the end of 60's he went to London and began designing jewelry made of Mexican paper Mache and rhinestones. He sold them in the streets and markets of London. He had a modest success and was featured in British VOGUE. He returned to Paris in 1970 and started working for a French leather company called McDouglas, where he learned the basic skills of pattern cutting/grading. He left them to start up on his own. In 1976 Montano staged a fashion show at Angelina's Tea Room, in Paris. His designs were acclaimed and his rise was meteoric. In 1979 he set up his own company and began creating masculine styles for women. Large sharp shoulders became his trademark. During the 80's he designed futuristic space-age clothes, as many other designers also did. He also continued with his heavy, broad-shouldered designs. He brought out his men's clothing line transforming the clean lines and pure forms of established men's tailoring into a more unstructured and casual alternative. He used a soft layering look, well designed and well executed.
From 1989 to 1991, Claude Montana designed for the house of Lanvin. He designed five award-winning collections. During the '90s, his style gradually changed and became more simple and sophisticated. His collections announced a whole new set of styles with exquisite drapery, fluidity, movement and minimal construction. He used a much more feminine look. Gone were the bulky masculine overcoats, and in came furs of white fox, or colored mink capes, and he began to make liberal use of fabrics such as velvet, crepe, mousseline, and leather. His leather collection in the '80s caused a violent reaction in the American press, which saw them as neo-Nazi wear. The "Fly-away" jacket, a trapeze cut flared from just below the shoulder blade, was a significant new shape. In 1993 Claude Montana married his long-time girl friend and earlier model, Wallis Franken - famous for starring in the Emanuelle films. They were married in Paris at the Mairie in the Rue De Grenelle. The bride naturally wore a Montana outfit, a soft white crepe pantsuit. The designer wore a pair of beige and black Montana cowboy boots flown in especially from Mexico. During the late '90s, Montana designed swimwear and soft flowing gowns with a bias cut. His beloved wife Wallis committed suicide in 1995. Montana faced considerable financial difficulties and sold his house to a French concern, which are continuing the name Stephane Parmentier. This French designer took over in 2002. He had earlier worked with Karl Lagerfeld, Givenchy, and Lanvin.

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