Castelbajac, the Marquis of Fashion
The man behind Castelbajac is Jean-Charles de Castelbajac, the Marquis de Castelbajac. He is a French nobleman with territory in the south of France, but his real claim to fame comes from his fashion creations. He fashioned the coat made of teddy bears once worn by pop star Madonna, and has made clothing for such fashion trendsetters (and outliers) as Lady Gaga.
The Noble Designer
Jean-Charles de Castelbajac, often better known as JC/DC, was born in November 1949 in the storied city of Casablanca, in Morocco. Though he was born in Africa, he was by birth the Marquis de Castelbajac, though such titles do no mean as much today as they once did. Still, the title would give him a certain prestige from the start that others might lack.
He became a fashion designer as soon as he was old enough, offering his first work through the company Ko and Co in 1968. It was easy enough to arrange a showing, because his mother was the mind behind Ko and Co. Regardless, the young man showed a certain level of talent that would take him far in the world of fashion.
This first showing was based around so-called indirect fabrics: these were cloths generally used for purposes other than clothing which Castelbajac made into clothes – camouflage clothes, sponges, floor cloths, sponges, and the like. It showed his unusual and quirky style from the beginning, and this style would later attract a great deal of attention from celebrities.
He began to expand his creations from there, joining other outfits like Createurs de Industriels. In the early 1970s, he introduced a line of skiwear. This was also the same period he first developed the teddy bear coat that would end up on a number of very famous women.
JC/DC’s fame continued to grow into the 1980s. He collaborated with the legendary band, Sex Pistols when they performed at Chalet du Lac. He also created painted dresses with popular characters such as Mickey Mouse upon them, as well as graffiti dresses in 1984.
One of the most remarkable events to happen to de Castelbajac was the request for him to design clothing for Pope John Paul II, 500 bishops, and 5,000 priests when they came to visit Paris in 1997. After some consideration, they decided to make the rainbow their theme – the rainbow being God’s sign to Noah that He would never again destroy mankind in a flood.
Everyone loved the idea, but JC/DC felt it was only fair to warn the Pope that the rainbow was also a symbol of the gay community. Rather than being horrified, the Pope replied that no one actually owned the rainbow, so he had no problem with using that symbol with the liturgical clothing currently in development. Once the work was over, the Pope told JC/DC that he had “used color as a cement of faith”.
In 2001, Castelbajac expanded yet again from colors and symbols to fragrances. The self-named Castelbajac is an exotically floral fragrance for women. It opens with notes of almond and orange blossom; its heart is cyclamen and lily-of-the valley; it finishes with musk, patchouli, vanilla, and cedar.
Not much later, in 2004, a variation on the original was launched: Castelbajac Eau de Toilette. This fragrance had a woodier tone than the previous Castelbajac fragrance for women. It still opens with almond, but it has a more complex composition of tomato leaf, grapefruit, and bergamot mixed within it. The heart is delightfully floral: lily-of-the-valley, cyclamen, rose, and orange blossom. The base is much the same in its notes, though the balance might differ: patchouli, cedar, musk, and vanilla.
The Distinctive Mark of the Marquis
No matter what he makes JC/DC does it with style, be it fragrances or fashion. There is no one that can match his distinctive flair for color. Anyone whose seen Sarah Jessica Parker in the Sex and the City series has seen his work – he was the one who designed her clothing for that series in 2003.
The career of Jean-Claude du Castelbajac may seem legendary, even magical – a French nobleman who charmed the world with his exquisite taste in clothing. He has dressed people from Elton John to Mick Jagger to Farrah Faucett to Lady Gaga. He’s even turned his attention to designing furniture and designed a watch based off of a treasured childhood toy – Lego. Whatever Jean-Claude du Castelbajac does, it’s sure to be interesting.