White Night for fashion crusader

My son recently married an Israeli, Jean-Charles de Castelbajac reveals

Jean-Charles de Castelbajac in Tel Aviv on Thursday night (photo credit: Anthony Grant)
Jean-Charles de Castelbajac in Tel Aviv on Thursday night (photo credit: Anthony Grant)

In the world of start-ups, there is much talk about “disruption” to seed new markets and of course, the more prosaic “innovation” – but no matter how you slice it, nobody has “sewn” the world how fantastic creative disruption can be as much as Jean-Charles de Castelbajac.

Now the 63-year-old Moroccan-born, French couturier, also known as JC/DC, who famously made Farrah Fawcett sizzle in the ’70s and infamously put Lady Gaga in a Kermit the Frog frock, has set his sights on Israel – at least for a little while.

On Thursday night as part of Tel Aviv’s White Night festivities, Castelbajac and the French band Nouvelle Vague disrupted the customary calm of Bialik Square by way of a rollicking performance of “The Dawn of Innocence,” during which Castelbajac as artist-shaman helped overcome global gloom and doom with the help of lithe French singers, an oversized sketchbook and of course, a few turns of his models on an improvised catwalk in front of the Beit Ha’ir.

The marvelous mélange is already programmed for a series of dates in the United States, but Tel Aviv’s the place, apparently, where it showed its first face. After the show, this writer grabbed the (surprisingly simply dressed) style icon by the collar and asked him why:

Did you choose Tel Aviv (to perform) or did Tel Aviv choose you?

Jean-Charles de Castelbajac: I think Tel Aviv chose me! It’s a town I wanted to come to for a long, long time, I always dreamed to come here. Very strangely, I first wanted to go to Jerusalem, because I’m from a Catholic family and my ancestors came for the Crusades in the 12th century. Also, my son recently married an Israeli, so I have this family connection.

How did the collaboration with Lady Gaga come about?

I started about five years ago with the green Kermit coat… called the ugliest coat in humanity by People magazine. I was very proud of that designation actually. Because it’s a Dadaist coat: a piece of art, you’re not supposed to go out in the rain with it!

So Gaga loved that coat and it was the beginning of her career actually. The coat is in her tour. I also did her black-and-white leather dress for the “Telephone” video.

And “The Dawn of Innocence”?

I have many collaborators based in Tel Aviv, so I always wanted to come. But I was contacted by the French Embassy and French Institute to do a fashion exhibition, and I said I don’t want to do that, because that’s about the past. I wanted to do something that would really get the Tel Aviv kids going and inspire them. I love the energy of Tel Aviv.

My mother is addicted to your perfume. How dare you stop making it?

We are bringing back my perfume, with a powerful Korean partner. It’s a really good moment for my brand.


read more:
Never miss breaking news on Israel
Get notifications to stay updated
You're subscribed