René Ramillon, a businessman from the French city of Grenoble, never thought his firm, Moncler, would grow as much as it has. Dedicated to the production of materials and equipment for mountain sports, in 1952 Ramillon founded Moncler, an abbreviation of Monestier-de-Clermont, a quaint Alpine village in southeast France.
In 1954, after experimenting with different techniques, he adapted the method he used for his sleeping bags to winter jackets that could protect his employees from the harsh winters in the French Alps. Mountaineer Lionel Terray was the first to realize the potential of the comfortable quilted jackets created by Moncler and commissioned a special collection of jackets, ski trousers and gloves suitable for extremely low temperatures.
Ever since, Moncler has been the provider of winter garments not only for explorers and athletes, but also for celebrities and movie stars who expose themselves to the low temperatures on the slopes. Brigitte Bardot was among the early fans of the French label. By 1968 the brand became the official outfitter for the Grenoble Winter Olympic Games, and since then it has kept a constant presence in Winter Olympics.
In the 1980s, Moncler added vibrant colors to its jackets, making them the favorites of the young skiers from Milan. The Paninaro was a fashion trend that did not last long, but one, which enabled the company to reach record sales: more than 40,000 jackets were sold all over the world.
Ten years ago, the brand became associated with luxury fashion. Remo Ruffini was responsible for this big jump in popularity. Ruffini purchased the company in 2003 and turned it into an icon of winter luxury with new styles created by renowned designers such as Nicolas Ghesquière, Junya Watanabe and Pharrell Williams, who created limited editions for Moncler.
Ruffini managed to elevate the brand to the top of French fashion, introducing Moncler to the Paris catwalks in 2006. In 2008, he launched Gamme Rouge, the first upscale line designed by Alessandra Facchinetti, currently under the helm of Giambattista Valli. Following the success of his line of women´s apparel, Ruffini launched Gamme Bleu, the male line equivalent to Gamme Rouge designed by Thom Browne, which was presented at Milan Fashion Week.
Realizing the importance of the American market, in 2010 Ruffini launched at New York Fashion Week, Moncler Grenoble, a collection inspired by the original styles of the brand, but also appropriate for everyday city wear. Bruce Weber was commissioned to photograph a sophisticated marketing campaign, which featured Weber’s characteristic golden retrievers. In 2011 Weber created a short film for Moncler titled Don’t Steal the Jacket.
Ruffini wanted a big celebration to commemorate the 60 years of creation of the French brand, organizing parties that were attended by Paris and Nicky Hilton, model Karolina Kurkova, Bruce Weber, Will Claye, Uma Thurman and China Chow, among other celebrities.
And that seems only fair, since Moncler has become the brand de rigueur for aristocrats, celebrities and millionaires who made their jackets a regular presence on the slopes of Colorado, Switzerland and the French and Italian Alps.
Ruffini continues to be President and Creative Director of the company, and the brand´s fashion shows have become celebrated event in Paris, Milan and New York. ■