Cardi B stunting in vintage Mugler at the 2019 Grammys was all the confirmation we needed that an archival fashion moment can be just as relevant today - if done well. Enter the Claude Montana limited 11-piece re-issue capsule collection, conceived by stalwart vintage retailer & reseller network Byronesque with Gareth Pugh as creative consultant, sold exclusively on Farfetch. The house of Claude Montana, founded in 1979, was the biggest-selling high fashion label of its era with 400 wholesale retailers worldwide. It represented a limitless moment in time, pioneering giant shoulder pad looks and dripping with classic 80s bravado. Montana was an era-defining designer, somewhat forgotten by recent generations, but remaining an enduring influence on designers like Alexander McQueen & Olivier Theyskens. Fashion history, add to cart.
With this re-issue, a few classic Montana designs return for the first time in 20 years. Each piece was hand-picked to represent the Catalan-French designer’s signature aesthetic - spanning from his ’79 debut to the height of the hype in 1994. Working in collaboration with original Montana team members, a couple of remaining archive pieces and painstaking research culled from press clippings, Gareth Pugh sunk his teeth into the project.
“The attention to detail, cut and craftsmanship that went into creating Montana’s collections was meticulous and couture-like - and when you think of pioneering and meticulous cut and craft, (and let’s not forget dramatic strong silhouettes), Gareth is an obvious choice,” Byronesque founder Gill Linton told Vogue. Pugh, who announced he will not be showing a collection for the first time in 13 years to focus on seasonless collabs like this one instead, stated: “I’ve always been drawn to Montana: his work challenged convention and managed to equate power and seduction. I feel he never fetishised women, he celebrated them, and that is key – especially today.”
It's hard to imagine Montana’s erstwhile cult status, but reports have it that a Montana show used to be a totally frenzied affair, with people crying and banging down the doors to get in. Claude had an entourage, a flossy posse. Think Grace Jones in all black leather, a cloud of YSL Opium and cigarette smoke. You were either Team Mugler or Team Montana. No fence-riders, chéri. After taking the early 80s by storm, Montana landed the couture seat at Lanvin in 1989, broke The States and saw his star rise and rise until he pulled a Houdini and ghosted the industry for 15 years – plagued by personal trauma, rumours of addiction, over-exposure and the aftermath of his bankruptcy in 1997. In 2011, he co-created a retrospective coffee table book. Age 71, he still resides in Paris where fashion fiends can spot his blonde signature moustache on the streets as he – apparently – tweets shade about current fashion trends.
If you’ve never happened upon an original vintage Montana, with this re-issue you’ll be able to shop pieces like the ‘Eagle Dress’, currently held at the Met, as well as an embroidered dress from 1979 that requires 110 hours of hand-beading, an oversized shirt with leather bow from ’84, show robes in Kelly green, cerulean and black, a leather jumpsuit (a quintessential Montana staple from the 1990 collection), an oversized coat with statement shoulders that catapulted the brand to stardom in 1984, a puffer jacket, strapless body suit, logo tees, bomber jacket & leather dress. If there is any justice in this world, the women of ‘Pose’ will be wearing these for season two. All will be well.