Long before Jeremy Scott created a knit sweater dress made to resemble a giant french fry monster, or Bernhard Willhelm was fashioning loosely fitting sweaters with dragonfly prints, Frenchman Jean-Charles de Castelbajac was tugging at the edges of the fashion landscape. From this first collection in the '60s Castelbajac has treated his work as a perpetual art project, a meandering commentary on contemporary society referencing pop culture (as in a dress shaped like a Coca-Cola bottle), street culture (graffiti prints) and everything in between.
The connections between Castelbajac's work of the past decades and that of the current crop of energetic newcomers like Henrik Vibskov and Scott, c-neeon and Willhem are so clear as to be unmistakable. And yet while all the above designers have a fair amount of worldwide recognition, we had not even heard the name Castelbajac until we saw a feature on the designer in the last issue of Dazed & Confused.
All this is not to say Castelbajac's contributions are over and done with. His latest collections are as energetic as ever. And the bold, wacky dresses from Castelbajac's decades old collections would look completely modern on the street, indistinguishable from the edgier fashion one might see on the streets of Manhattan on occasion.
Castelbajac was previous not really available in the US, but will be available next season at Seven, alongside pieces from Jeremy Scott and Bernhard Willhelm. A perfect fit if we ever saw one.
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