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April 21 2014

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Claude Montana, Fashion Radical, Resurfaces

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It’s been nearly two decades since the fashion world has caught a glimpse of Claude Montana. But the reclusive designer showed up and lingered last night at Didier Ludot’s cocktail party in the Palais Royal, where the vintage guru is now displaying his private stash of Montana pieces. The idea to showcase Montana came naturally, Ludot noted. “He lives in the neighborhood so I see him every day, and it occurred to me that it would be an interesting switch from what I usually show—the Dior, Balenciaga, and Schiaparelli.” Montana’s recasting of sporty pieces in hyper-luxury materials was revolutionary at the time, he added, recalling a purple mink tracksuit from one show. Among Ludot’s treasures: a one-off absinthe and mustard-colored mink coat Montana designed for his late wife Wallis, a be-gloved and be-feathered black bodysuit, and a short, Lesage-embroidered couture dress from his controversial stint at Lanvin in the early nineties, a piece that Ludot scored only last Friday.

Montana, who recently published a retrospective of his career, recalled the agony of designing that couture dress: “The studio director didn’t understand what I wanted, so there was lots of back and forth,” he said. “There are so many memories in these windows, it’s touching.” Ludot concluded, “I think of Montana’s place in fashion as a bit like what Hervé Van der Straeten is to design now—extremely refined but also modern.” As to potential Montana heirs among fashion’s current crop, Ludot said, “I’m keeping an eye on Alexandre Vauthier and Maxime Simoens because they have the sensibility and they can do couture. And I saw something by Gareth Pugh the other day and I thought, ‘That could have been Montana.’ “

Photo: François Gozé

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