Pleased to Meet You, Monte!

09/07/2010

Say-yes-atlanta-monte Underneath Monte Durham's perfectly coiffed exterior, he's a Southern softie! Monte tells TLC about an encounter with a clairvoyant and explains "jacking up" brides.

TLC: Tell us about your title and the role you play at Bridals by Lori.
Monte: Lori and I are great friends -- I've known her for about 10 years through the bridal industry. [When we met] I was an image director [and she said] "I want you in my store next week!" She began immediately with the fashion part of my job and said, "We'll ensure the fit, but I want you to stylize the brides."

TLC: What's your background like in the fashion and beauty industries?
Monte: I was born in the hills of West Virginia. My father was quite the dapper dresser in college, and my mother was always a great dresser with an impeccable, understated sense of style. ... I was always surrounded by changing fashions because of my three sisters. I tell everyone that when I started school, I started in a one-room schoolhouse that my grandfather helped build. [Later] I went to a very small merchandising school ... and went into department stores in visual merchandising (at the time, it was called display). When I transitioned to the sales floor and became a personal shopper ... women would say to me they could never find anybody to alter their clothes properly or do their hair the way they wanted. I thought, "I can't sew, but I can do hair!" I went to Graham Webb International and took the advanced course [in London] and then worked for Elizabeth Arden. [After that] I opened my own salon, Studio M at The Resort at Glade Springs in West Virginia.    

TLC: How do you feel about being a public figure now?
Monte: [Tells a story about being on a flight just as "Say Yes to the Dress Atlanta" was coming together.] I'm always dressed for a flight, usually in a suit, and my shoes are polished every weekend -- that was my job as a little boy, I polished shoes before church on Sunday. [I was talking to a lady on the flight] and she said, "You don't seem affected by all this publicity." And then she went on, "You know, I'm clairvoyant -- and the reason you're not affected by this and the reason this isn't overwhelming to you is because this is your DESTINY!" This was about three months before the show!

TLC: Tell us about the expression "jacking up" brides.
Monte: If you want to know the true meaning of "jack 'em up," make an appointment at Bridals by Lori! After the bride has narrowed down her choices to three dresses, I come in and style them [and give tips about] makeup, hair, nail polish, posture, what veils to wear during and after the ceremony, how to stand for portraits, how to sit in and exit the car ... I don't close the sale; I encapsulate the look for the big day! Lori tossed that expression to me [a long time ago]. She just looked over at me and said "Jack 'em up!" It was a borrowed phrase Lori had heard.

TLC: And if the expression is getting negative feedback from viewers?
Monte: Keep watching, keep learning, keep responding! Collectively, Lori and I have been in the business for 50 years, so we're tough-skinned.

TLC: Is there anything you'd like the show's fans to know about you on a personal level, like your hobbies and interests?
Monte: I'm a huge Jackie Kennedy fan! My office is papered with articles and photographs of Jackie -- and I've got a replica of her wedding gown for inspiration. I think everyone should look and act like a lady.

We'll have more from Monte soon! And in the meantime, keep up with us on Twitter and Facebook.

Bridals by Lori fashion director Monte is a self-proclaimed "country boy"! (Credit: DCL)
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