Montana, Claude

(1949- )
   Born in Paris to a German mother and a Spanish father, Montana had no formal fashion training. He moved to London in 1971 and began designing jewelry made out of papier-mâchè and rhinestones. Returning to Paris in 1972, he worked as an assistant designer for MacDouglas leathers. Leather was a medium with which Montana would become synonymous, especially after featuring it in his first eponymous collection in 1976 to rave reviews.
   In 1979, Montana officially opened his ready-to-wear company and two years later designed his first men's collection, Montana Hommes. From 1982 to 1987, he designed the Complice collection and, from 1990-1992, the haute couture collection for Lanvin. Although he won two Golden Thimble awards for his work at Lanvin, he was fired after only two collections when his designs proved too bold for the Lanvin couture customer.
   Montana is known for his use of strong color, monochromatic fabrics, razor-sharp tailoring, and broad shoulders. His love of leather has placed him in the "fetish" category, alongside his contemporary Thierry Mugler. During the 1980s, both designers were at the top of their game. Their shows were fashion extravaganzas and their clothes were avant-garde. However, by the 1990s, neither designer had changed with the times, which were trending toward a minimal approach to fashion. Consequently, their businesses struggled. Montana eventually sold his house to French entrepreneur Jean-Jacques Layani while continuing to serve as a consultant to the design team. Product licenses include handbags, eyewear, shoes, and men's ties.

Historical Dictionary of the Fashion Industry. .

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