The Full Monty

Montana the Extraordinary has me more interested than any other doe-eyed gazelle that the Australian glossies had touted as the next big thing, only to have their heads inflate faster than the media honeymoon period could handle: @montanacox1 by @margaret__zhang for #THEFASHIONPROJECT by @davidjonesstore



What is it about Montana Cox? On Australian modeling standards, two and a half years going strong in the game counts as pretty well seasoned. Six seasons on the international show circuit with a Givenchy exclusive as your current affair is but a few more rounds off supermodel status – though most in the running won’t achieve anything close unless they’re twelve or twenty three.

But, that Tisci isn’t messing around, you know. Cox is really something, and every casting director knows it.

Fast forward two weeks, and MC is quite literally stopping traffic on the pedestrian crossing at David Jones’ runway show venue entrance in Melbourne. Corporate pairs en route to twilight knock-offs, site staff , and early show goers slow to be transfixed by an ethereal mass of long limbs and white hair, and stumble awkwardly when they notice my lens halfway up the stairs.

That, and the thirty onlooking phones and Instagram accounts, frantically tagging, hash-tagging, and tagging again in fangirl hopes of being the one in fifty thousand she regrams).

Photographing (ridiculously) well while crossing the road is not where it stops. Somewhere in amongst my highly sophisticated directive instructions of “more Milla Jovovich” and MC’s slow-mo and cross-eyed goofball-ing in response between shutter bursts, we smashed out what I’m going to call a hyperspeed editorial in fifteen minutes.

Sorry, Margaret – make that ten…

Hold up, she has to go back into hair and make up now.

So, ladies, let me tell you what it is about Montana Cox: she’s got a good head on her shoulders.

With her degree of local stardom, that’s a rare thing. Fame breeds monsters in youth, and for Monty, it wasn’t exactly micro-managed from start to present. While I’m only a sometime (and sleepyheaded) view of Australia’s Next Top Model, Montana had me more interested than any other doe-eyed gazelle that the Australian glossies had touted as the next big thing, only to have their heads inflate faster than the media honeymoon period could handle.

Meanwhile, Cox was quietly working her butt off overseas – talking about this upward incline, between getting changed in the corner of a cloakroom spewing with camera gear, and trying to decipher the Hollywood origins of Monty’s kick-ass fembot vibe, Montana has a bit of career perspective that a lot of young models, and twenty-year-olds in general, have yet to dig up.

Because, no task or person is ever too small for the likes of Monty. The girl has grace, the girl has a sense of humour, and the girl is not about being a girl – there is no panicked socialite sense of breaking necks (though, surely banking checks), nor shrieking post-teen headiness. Indeed, you have to give a lady credit for holding her own alongside a David Jones Ambassador 8 years her senior (hola, Gomes).

You give and you get.

And, trotting the globe for a few years, interacting with the industry’s best, and an excellent agent also helps – though clearly, without growing up too fast.




If anyone in our Australian delegation of the grand fashion industry is honest, we’ve never seen MC look this fresh and striking, with more credit to a girl grown up than freshly wispy white locks alone. Having spent the full hour in the car to Melbourne airport this morning editing down my final Monty selection, I can tell you that this is no mean feat. Being a model at any level is not what the final frames cut it out to be, but being this capable of nailing fifteen minutes of shutter time has my ten dollars backing this twenty year old anti-Ice Queen.

Shot & Directed by Margaret Zhang for THE FASHION PROJECT – Styled by David Jones – Hair & Make Up by L’Oreal Paris

Montana wears: Cameo Simple Song Sleeveless Dress, Bassike Sweater, Jacket and Trousers (limited stock available at Elizabeth St store in Sydney)


Margaret Zhang 章凝 is an Australian-born-Chinese filmmaker, photographer, consultant and writer based between New York and Shanghai. Since establishing her website in 2009, Zhang has gone on to work with global brands including CHANEL, Swarovski, YEEZY, Bulgari, Gucci, MATCHES, Under Armour, and Louis Vuitton in a wide range of capacities both in front of and behind the camera, while completing her Bachelor of Commerce/Bachelor of Laws at The University of Sydney. Zhang’s directing, photography, and styling has been employed by the likes of VOGUE, L’Officiel, Harper’s BAZAAR, NOWNESS, and ELLE internationally. She has been listed in Forbes Asia’s 30Under30 and TimeOut’s 40Under40, and her work has been recognized as shaping the international fashion industry by the Business of Fashion BoF500 Index for four consecutive years. CNN has identified Zhang as a leading fashion photographer in Asia and ELLE named her the region’s most influential digital voice. She went on to be the first Asian face to cover ELLE Australia. In 2016, she co-founded BACKGROUND, a global consultancy for which she specialises in Western-to-Chinese and Chinese-to-Western cultural bridging for a range of luxury, lifestyle, and brand initiatives. In 2017, she exhibited a series of 39 unseen photographic works as a solo show in Sydney, and premiered her first short film – a 15-minute exploration of her visceral relationship with classical music on both performance and abstract planes – to critical acclaim. In 2018, co-curated the first annual FOREFRONT Summit focused on inter-industry problem-solving at all scales of business. From this king summit, Zhang developed FOREFRONT+ – a round table series of candid conversations covering subject matters of universal concern. In 2019, THE FACE Magazine engaged Zhang as Creative-Director-at-Large for Asia for its relaunch. Zhang is currently working on her first feature film.


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