Interview by Andrei Zozulya Davidov 35mm photos by Anna Barr at Jean Charles de Castelbajac x Oneplus launch

Jean Charles, I know it happened before but still I’d like to start our conversation by asking why did you decide to skip the previous fashion weeks in Paris?

For different reasons actually, but the main reason is that I don’t identify myself with the current system. Obviously I love fashion and I’m currently busy looking for other ways to express it. I think if I return some day it will be with a couture collection, a very popular kind of couture. My goal is that couture becomes my secondary line; I want to create financially accessible haute couture dresses.

Are we talking about some kind of low-cost couture?

No, it’s not at all about low-cost, it’s about changing the habits. The idea of haute couture is the crystallization of savoir-faire, but I also think that there’s savoir-faire in popular techniques. I love the savoir-fair of the t-shirts, I love the savoir-faire of the sweatshirts and I think there’s a way to reinterpret the crystallization of the idea under a more accessible prism. I want to come back with a rupture.

Do you think that the concept of a fashion show has become obsolete?

No, I don’t think so. I think the concept of a fashion show has never been as pertinent as it is today. It has become a work of art, a performance and an installation. From my perspective the issue today is not the show itself, but rather its content, because the content being shown doesn’t match my idea of making fashion. Let’s say I don’t have this vision of luxury, for example the performance I created for Art Rock Festival has an huge dimension of proximity, of accessibility, of appropriation, I can’t find all these aspects in contemporary fashion.

I’d like to ask about the Fantômes performance that you created back in May 2015 for the closing of Art Rock Festival. What was the purpose of it?

Well the purpose itself appeared back in 1997 when I was dressing the Pope John Paul II, together with another 500 bishops, 5000 priests and another million of young theology students.  At the time I created all those costumes for an absolutely mental celebration and when I saw the results, I was wowed ‘‘that’s it!’’  – I thought,  ‘‘my fashion shows must have at least 15.000 people’’. After that moment I started to construct this performance idea, about three years ago I did a show in Lille before 80.000 people where I was mixing live pretty much everything I love; music, special effects, hair styling, fashion, make up etc. creating a very epic and oneiric universe. My pleasure was tremendous, it was great to interact with the public, to have the capacity of drawing live on the screens that was the closest way to express fashion like I always idealized. I love the idea of putting myself in danger and at the same time give the public the feeling of sharing something unique with me, creating a communion, a procession if you want.

Meaning that you kept this performance in your head for quite a while?

Exactly, but once again I changed everything because I never shown it before. You have both ghosts and angels in there, it’s a quite disturbing show. There’re no models, I simply chosen the women from the village along with traditional Bretagne back pipe musicians. MR NÔ took care of the electronic compositions and we used back pipes as synths backed by traditional ‘’Waterloo’’ kind of drums, the effect is very dramatic.

So the purpose of presenting your creations in a ‘’fashion-hostile’’ territory is to bring the culture of fashion to the masses?

I love the idea of bringing couture to the masses not fashion, I think today couture carries a certain feeling of peace. Our world is ruled by marketing results and economical data, but the beauty is something metaphysical and it’s definitely a resisting force. Speaking of resistance, me and my group of friends we were all totally into the concept of resistance, today I think the best solution is that of becoming a virus, a positive virus and contaminate people with positivism.

That’s very interesting, there’s no place for revolutions today, so probably the only way to pass your message is through contamination.

Exactly (laughs)

Jean-Charles, to finish our conversation I’d like to ask if you could recite a Dadaist poem?

Oh great! You know that 4th February 2016 was the 100th anniversary of Dadaism. I knew very well Raoul Hausmann because he immigrated to Limoges. At the time I was 15 years old and everyday I could observe this man hanging around with two beautiful women, it was a very conservative town so all the bourgeois were scandalized by his behavior. So one day my mom says to me ‘’ Son we are invited to an antiquary to see some photographs’’ so we arrive there and the poem I will tell you know is the one he use to recite before opening the door. So imagine this man wearing a huge sleeping shirt, a beret, a pair of clogs, carrying a candle and a little bell reciting very loud the following:

Taka Taka Da

Taka Da, Taka Da, Ta Da

Da Da Da Da Da