POP LIFE: Jean-Charles de Castelbajac is on a roll. The veteran French designer, who in October was appointed artistic director of Benetton, is extending his playful pop vision to a women’s-focused capsule for heritage French swimwear label Vilebrequin, set to launch in April.
Mixing American sportswear influences with the brand’s Seventies, Saint-Tropez roots, the line includes a zipped one piece bathing suit with a trompe l’oeil décolleté, as well as fun leisurewear pieces like printed tunics and color-blocked terry cloth sweatshirts with cloud motifs, rainbow jewelry, footwear and towels. A few men’s items, like printed beach shorts, are sprinkled in.
Castelbajac even reworked the house logo for the capsule, using a sheer rainbow stripe to partly mask the first few letters of the brand name to leave “requin” — French for shark — exposed.
“[Our DNA] is function, fantasy and elegance, and he’s a master of that,” said Roland Herlory, chief executive officer of Vilebrequin, at a preview of the collection. “There’s something magical about finding the exact meeting point between two worlds.”
For Herlory, swimwear, the brand’s core metier since 1971, is having a moment.
“Everybody is trying now to focus on swimwear: If you look at Chanel’s recent acquisition of Orlebar Brown, it’s not by accident, then Hermès hired somebody from Eres two or three years ago to reinforce its line,” he said.
Part of G-III Apparel Group Ltd.’s portfolio since 2012, Vilebrequin introduced its “mother and daughter” line five years ago. The category represents around 20 to 25 percent of sales in the stores that carry the women’s line, and globally around 12 percent of total sales, Herlory said.