PARIS — Stephane Parmentier, the French designer who will unveil his debut collection for Claude Montana here on Monday, was an early fan of the house. “I became a fashion rat at 14,” Parmentier recalled. “Claude’s shows were my favorite. They had the most energy. I remember everything about them: the hair, the music, the models — even their poses. And, certainly, I remember all of the clothes.”
Now Parmentier, 35, is charged with injecting new energy into the house that Claude built. Although Montana still acts as a consultant, Parmentier has been chief designer at the house since last spring. French entrepreneur Laurent Layani purchased Claude Montana two years ago with an intent to revamp it. Ready-to-wear volume is currently $23 million. Layani’s first measure was to tap president Beatrice Bongibault — who has held top managerial jobs at Valentino and Chanel.
“Stephane knows how to do everything,” said Bongibault. “I wanted him because he’s not a fashion freshman. He knows how to build a collection. And he knows Montana’s fashion. He knows Montana better than Claude.” Little known outside of France, Parmentier has 17 years of fashion experience, working at Lanvin, Givenchy and Karl Lagerfeld. Three years ago he launched a signature collection, known for its architectural lines, which is carried exclusively in the U.S. at Saks Fifth Avenue.
For Montana, Parmentier intends to reference the house’s heritage — from stark lines and leather to metal and Montana’s signature electric blue — and carry it forward to create a modern cool.
“I want to build a strong style,” said Parmentier. “I want to respect the codes of the house. But I want to soften the line. The Montana woman today is no longer a warrior-career woman. She is softer — but still constructed.”