Jean Charles de Castelbajac

B. November 28, 1949 Birthplace: Casablanca, Morocco

Awards: Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, 1978 Forum Design, Linz, Austria, 1980 Laforet Museum, Belgium, 1984

Castelbajac began designing for his mother's apparel manufacturing company, Ko and Co., when he was only eighteen. He introduced his first line for the company in 1968. Soon thereafter, he worked as a design assistant at Pierre d'Alby.

After starting his own label in 1970, Castelbajac quickly became known for taking everyday materials, such as gauze, terrycloth, and blankets, and transforming them into garments. He soon shifted to creating wearable art, which peaked in popularity during the early 1980s. At that time, many people turned to art-inspired clothing as a form of conspicuous consumption. By working with intense color and architectural shapes, he designed garments which were playful and outspoken without being flashy.

Garments like his sleeping-bag coat, blanket coat, and clear plastic jacket filled with colored feathers cemented his reputation in outerwear. Also known for his sportswear and jeans wear, he outfitted such fashion-forward musicians as Elton John, Rod Stewart, and the Talking Heads. The U.S. Olympic gymnastic team wore his designs during the 1984 events in Los Angeles.

In addition to designing for his own label, Castelbajac has worked for Carel Shoes, Jesus Jeans, Julie Latour, Levi Strauss, Max Mara, and Les Createur, a design group including Issey Miyake and Emmanuelle Khanh. From 1994 to 1996, he designed the ready-to-wear collections of Andre Courreges. He has licensed his name to two fragrances: Premier de JeanCharles in 1982 followed by a men's scent. His other licenses include chocolates, home furnishings, jewelry, and shoes. See also: Levi Strauss; Issey Miyake; Andre Courreges.

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