COPY CAT: With appropriation being one of the topics du jour, Jean-Charles de Castelbajac set out to explore “the dialogue between his designer and artist sides” for his new solo show. Entitled “The Empire of Collaborations” and opening at Paris’ Galerie Danysz on Saturday, it takes on the blurry world of collaborations, or “iconoclastic encounters.”
“The major issue nowadays is the ‘karaoke.’ I am amazed that world-famous celebrated designers are stealing and copying historical works from other designers without reinventing the design and without any tribute to the original designer, erasing all the fashion history,” said de Castelbajac, who throughout his own fashion career has tangoed with a number of iconic artists and brands, kicking off with a Snoopy hookup with Iceberg in 1974, as the house’s first creative director. He called that the “first-ever cartoon sweater. The second was with Andy Warhol where we shot him for the campaign.”
The designer has even coined his own term for his penchant for “reinterpreting the territories of tradition” incarnated by emblematic brands such as J.M. Weston or Hermès: “contemporary archeology.”
“Vintage is today celebrated as a post-creativity. I have been inspired by brilliant artists all my life, but I never copied their work. I twist, hijack, appropriate their ideas, but I reinvent them through new and personal concepts,” added de Castelbajac, who continues to collaborate with Rossignol and Le Coq Sportif.
His latest show forms the closing chapter of an artistic triptych that kicked off in 2009 with “The Triumph of the Signs,” held at Paradise Row in London, in which he combined logos with iconic canvases of art history, such as Édouard Manet’s “Luncheon on the Grass” with Louis Vuitton; Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres’ “La Grande Odalisque” with Gucci, and Eugène Delacroix’s “Liberty Leading the People.”