Claude Montana will always be remembered as not only the fashion icon of the ’80s but also for his distinctive
signature style with the extra extra large shoulders and wasp waists. Unfortunately this highly influential and talented designer has passed away in Paris on Friday at the age of 76.

Claude Montana loved bold shoulders and dynamic silhouettes while creating an impact with his dynamic leather coats and garments.
He was a huge influence on the style of the time and won two Dés d’or awards in quick succession, the highest distinction in the fashion world.

Claude Montana was born in Paris on June 29, 1947. Claude Montamat ( his real name ) grew up in an affluent family. His mother was German Protestant, his father Catalan and Claude went on to study at the prestigious Lycée Condorcet.
He later took on a part time job at the Paris Opera.

Always one to be part of the vanguard, it was only natural the Claude Montana was attracted to England by the “Swinging London” scene. Unfortunately his lack of a work permit proved to be an obstacle while he was there.
He then returned back to Paris and worked as a pattern maker for leather specialist Mac Douglas. This invaluable experience was later to show itself with his beautifully crafted leatherwork in his collections.

His first fashion show was in 1975 where his flashy colours , extravagant silhouettes and designs were an instant hit.
He then created his own label in 1979. A regular at The Palace, the fashionable nightclub of the day, Claude Montana soon became one of the star designers in Paris and earned himself the nickname ‘ King of the Shouder Pad’. He had a distinctive palette of black and white, gray and navy and brilliant shades of emerald, fuchsia including his favourite cobalt blue. His flare and work embodied exceptional craftsmanship.
He loved to create his image of the power women with strong silhouettes that went on to influence Alexander McQueen, Olivier Theyskens, Riccardo Tisci
and other talented designers of future generations. 
His design pieces are highly collectable and revered for their radical yet wearable style.

Claude Montana’s theatrical fashion shows were major events. His catwalk shows were dramatic and held in high regard amongst the fashion industry. Christian Lacroix would comment on how great Claude Montana’s shows were. Inès de la Fressange, French style icon and one of his early catwalk models commented,  “People used to bang down Montana’s doors to be allowed in.”

After becoming a darling of the ’80s, Claude Montana shot to fame in 1990 when he walked through the doors of Lanvin, which was celebrating its 100th anniversary at the time. After turning down Dior’s offer to become the creative director of haute couture and ready-to-wear, he joined Lanvin.
Lanvin wished to revive it’s collections. Unfortunately his collaboration with Lanvin came to a sad end in 1997 and he had to sell his brand.

Claude Montana’s life was full of extreme highs and lows. He enjoyed great successes and yet was beset with tragedy including the death of his muse wife to suicide.
The mid-90s saw Claude Montana lose his footing in fashion. Some put it down to substance and alcohol abuse. Cameron Silver, fashion historian and author of Decades: A Century of Fashion questioned whether Montana was too revered. “Being idolized is dangerous,” he says. “You can’t be objective”.

There is no doubt that Claude Montana was a genius, a perfectionist and a master of his art, a designer who was a major influence and who was highly sought after. A great talent, Claude Montana will be sadly missed. May he rest in peace.

Bruno Pavlovsky, president of French fashion’s organizing body and currently President, Fashion at Chanel emphasised, “
The work of Claude Montana embodied exceptional craftsmanship. His daring creations influenced a whole generation of designers. His distinctive style, blending sophistication and modernity, remains firmly rooted in the imagination of contemporary fashion, testifying to his indelible impact on the industry and on generations to come.”

A friend and fellow Central Saint Martin’s alumni, milliner Stephen Jones wrote on Instagram.
“Dear Claude, with whom I collaborated for 17 years. A genius, demanding and a perfectionist, always an inspiration, I learnt so much from you. R.I.P. love Stephen.”

Photo courtesy of @muglerize

Main image of Karen Mulder as the Lanvin bride with Claude Montana for his final bow during the finale of the show

Fashion Editor

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