Known as the “king of unconventional” in the fashion world, veteran French designer Jean-Charles de Castelbajac is smitten by the “smiles and colours of India”, where he hopes to showcase his craft.
After over four decades in the industry, Castelbajac, who has dressed up stars like Lady Gaga, Mick Jagger, Elton John, Beyonce Knowles and Madonna, says he still has the urge to get out of the comfort zone and challenge himself.
Although he has never been to India, Castelbajac feels he is connected to the country in some way, and rues that his “paintings and art” are not exposed here.
“One of my good friends is (fashion designer) Manish Arora. His work is blooming, invading the grey urbanity with vivid colours. He is very talented and represents well for me what is designed in India.
“On the other hand, I worked in the past with the amazing Anish Kapoor who just copyrights the most absolute black colour. For me, India is a chrysalis between these two artists,” Castelbajac told IANS in an email interview.
“My paintings and art are exposed in many countries except in India where I look for a gallery,” added the designer, who has designed an exclusive line titled “Callection” for Chinese smartphone maker OnePlus.
So, can we expect a collaboration with an Indian designer?
“I am waiting for proposals. This would be the achievement of a wonderful dream for me,” he said.
“I would love to visit India, the land of 2,000 colours, and I would be happy to collaborate with some industries there. Maybe in another life, I lived in Pondicherry, because I have thought about this city all my life but never had the opportunity to get there.
“I am sure that I will fall in love with India at first sight because Africans called me ‘Man of Colours’ and India’s treasures are colours and smiles.”
The Moroccan-born and Paris-based designer took his first step into the fashion world by designing for his mother’s company and presenting his first collection back in 1970.
He started his own business in 1975, and gradually made a name for himself by playing with colours and injecting fun into fashion with his childhood themes and pop music-inspired styles. Castelbajac uses unconventional materials for his creations, but his focus is always on functionality.
Castelbajac is the man behind Madonna’s Kermit the Frog coat, Katy Perry’s yellow dress at MTV Europe Music Awards in 2008 with former US President Barack Obama’s face emblazoned on it, Farrah Fawcett’s look in the 2000 film “Charlie’s Angel” — and he also convinced Pope John Paul II to wear rainbow cross motif vestments.
Reflecting on his journey, the designer said: “In 1970, my energy and motivation to create was based on ‘rock and roll’ — with a rebel attitude. I never forgot my punk spirit…
“It is easier in a digital world with social networks to propagate my philosophy of love and hope.”
Castelbajac asserts that he has “always been extremely determined to reinvent perpetually the established, conventional ideas”.
“I am still always curious and putting myself in danger, looking for new collaborations, new possibilities and new frontiers to my design and my style,” he added.
What’s his next challenge?
“Today, with the invasion of stories and images on the net, the way to provoke the imagination has changed. Creating mystery, working on poetry is the new challenge — like to cross over an invisible frontier with surrealism,” said the designer.