By  on April 4, 2007

PARIS — With "Gallierock," Jean-Charles de Castelbajac sets the stage for a captivating artistic assault at the Galliera fashion museum here.

"As a designer, it is essential to find a dialogue between fashion, history, design, art and music," he said of the show, which opens Thursday and runs until July 29. "I wanted to do so in an energetic manner; the show provokes without shocking."

Entering the exhibit, visitors see a self-portrait of the designer and a vivid orange Rubik's cube-like sculpture with flashing lights, while in the "Throne room," a fluorescent pink furry throne allows visitors to reign over the designs.

There is eye-popping wallpaper, such as slightly erotic manga (Japanese cartoons) and classroom pictures of de Castelbajac as a child.

"My mother was shocked," joked the designer, who worked with Paris DJ Kingju to create a soundtrack of electro-pop and rock tunes to maintain an energetic tempo throughout the show.

Despite the provocative artwork and upbeat sounds, de Castelbajac delivers an old-fashioned underlining message in the exhibit. "Fashion is timeless,'' he said. "I couldn't imagine fashion without history. Clothing carries the souls of the people who wore it."

To illustrate his point, de Castelbajac gestured to the 5-foot-tall body armor worn by Joan of Arc, which stands at the entrance. It's the first time the piece has been available for public viewing.

"Bravery is exemplified in armor only 5 feet high," said de Castelbajac, who recalled his youth spent in an aristocratic, military-oriented family.

"I used to think I was a knight and that one day I would help women," he said.

In contrast to the suit of armor, there's also an outfit worn by the "sans culottes" during the French revolution in 1793 and a robe worn by Napoleon around the time of his death.

In other rooms, de Castelbajac focuses on his creations with a retrospective retracing almost 40 years in fashion design. Key items include iconic pieces from the Eighties such as dresses printed with Campbell's Soup and Tom & Jerry images. There are also whimsical designs, including a 1976 double poncho and a 1988 sweaterdress made from knit gloves.An advocate for budding contemporary talent, de Castelbajac punctuated the show with works by young artists and photographers.

"They are my inspiration," he said. "Their energy is essential to creation."

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