June 27, 2012

Jean-Charles de Castelbajac

Jean-Charles de Castelbajac in Tel Aviv

Background: Last night, on Tuesday June 26th to be exact, the thrilling interdisciplinary fashion designer Jean-Charles de Castelbajac lectured at Beit Ha'ir ("City House"), Tel Aviv.

Jean-Charles de Castelbajac at Beit Ha'ir, Tel Aviv, photo by Juliette Gold
It was 20:30 p.m. on a warm, summery Tuesday night. There was peace and quiet on the Bialic Square at Tel Aviv … outside at least. Inside, magic was happening! Girls with colorful hair, guys with fans, photographers, bloggers, designers and curators all gathered up in one place. The music was cool; the dimmed lighting was cool; the walls were cool; Castelbajac was cool; and according to him, the crowd (that would us) was also cool!

The walls of the Beit Ha'ir museum, Jean-Charles de Castelbajac at Tel Aviv, photo source: Castelbajac's Facebook Page
The crowd, Jean-Charles de Castelbajac at Tel Aviv, photo source: Castelbajac's Facebook Page
Seasoning it with humor and fun, Castelbajac explained his vision of creativity. He told us about his childhood, his past, and the sources of his inspiration. Jean-Charles de Castelbajac was born in 1950 in Casablanca, Morocco and a few years later his family moved to France. There, he was sent to a boarding school where he stayed until the age of 17. He confessed of being quite unhappy in boarding school. However, with his spectacular life perspective, he was empowered by his situation.

{ He built his imagination on wound, his creativity on failure and his strength on loneliness. }

During his years in boarding school he developed his fascination with color. When all of his classmates kept their chocolaty treasures in identical wooden boxes, he asked his mother for a blue plastic box. Even though his candies have all gone bad in the sealed container, the color and individuality gave him hope. He kept that unique, colorful, and extraordinary child with him throughout the 40 years of his career.

{ Color = Hope }

Little Jean-Charles, photo source: Castelbajac's Facebook Page
Since one should never conclude a day without learning something new, I bring to you the summery of all the new content that now inhabits my brain:

Jean-Charles de Castelbajac at Beit Ha'ir, Tel Aviv, photo by Juliette Gold

Don't be afraid of failure:

At the age of 17, Castelbajac graduated from boarding school. With no experience, no diploma, and zero desire of becoming a fashion designer, he started working for his mother, who owned a fashion business. Yet, instead of reveling in self-pity Castelbajac became … well, Castelbajac.

{ "There's emotion in things we don't achieve" ~ Jean-Charles de Castelbajac  }

Open your eyes:

He finds his inspiration in things that people don't see, in the everyday life, in accidents. His advice - look around yourself. Inspiration is everywhere.

Have a clear say:

Each collection he creates has its own manifesto, a distinct saying. His current line, for instance, deals with "Dystopia". Castelbajac says that Dystopia describes our time – the rapid existence in which we abandon traditions and forget old beliefs.

{ "you don't just buy a piece of clothing. You buy a philosophy, an idea". }

photo source: Castelbajac's Facebook Page

First impression is everything:

In a fashion show, Castelbajac said, the first garment on the runway sets the tone of the entire show. When his whole collection is complete, he spends hours in the studio pondering on the selection process. 

Laugh at yourself:

After his divorce, Castelbajac created a double poncho that had a zipper in the middle.

Learn from others:

Castelbajac says he absolutely can't work alone. He has to be in a studio and around people. Theirs is always something we can learn from others. Their perspectives are contributive, not disturbing.

Last and most important: Stay true to yourself:

Even though that during the 90's grunge era, Castelbajac's colorful and poppy designs lacked popularity, he remained loyal to his aesthetic. Surprisingly enough, since his clothes were sold on sales and in cheap department stores, they became popular among the rising NY rappers. Now, JZ has a collection of these then-disapproved sweats and they are sold for thousands of dollars on e-bay!

{ " What you do can have more than one life. It's about whether you're sincere or not." ~ Jean-Charles de Castelbajac  }

What do you think about his work and his life perspective? What is your favorite piece from the latest collection? 

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