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Jean-Charles de Castelbajac

After opening a pop-up shop in Selfridges, the colourful designer speaks to Marie Davies about Latin vibes for spring 11

You set up the brand 40 years ago and are known throughout the industry for your quirky creativity. Where do you get your inspiration from?

My inspiration comes to me by accident and is a graduation of past and contemporary influences. I’ve always practiced humour through my designs and I continue to do so. I rarely look at other designers’ work in depth; I think other designs fail to match my eccentricity. I’ve been asked to design for many performers throughout the years - my outfits are like costumes, they have their own personality. I’ve designed for [musician] Rufus Wainwright and actress Farah Fawcett, through to Lady Gaga and Rihanna.

You recently launched a pop-up shop in Selfridges’ Wonder Room for your diffusion range JC/DC. Why?

The space was offered to me about eight months ago by Alannah Weston, daughter of Selfridges owner Galen Weston and creative director of Selfridges. I knew I could do something amazing in it. I love contemporary art and the Wonder Room windows offered me the chance to indulge my imagination. I don’t just look at JC/DC as a fashion line, it’s a lifestyle brand. The windows I’ve created for Selfridges to promote the pop-up shop are named Alien Invasion and represent how we should not be scared of strangers. Each window tells a part to the story of familiarisation: first the aliens land, then they meet people, then have dinner together, etc. It’s about the process of new adventures and embracing them.

That certainly sounds different. How does that theme translate into your collection?

In the windows I have key pieces such as my all-over sequin dresses featuring the faces of inspirational people such as Barack Obama and a dress that I designed for Rhianna. The spring 10 collection is named Pirates, Parrots and Paradise. There are lots of Hawaiian-inspired prints in blue, green and red. Everything is bright and bold and works well together in the space.

What can we expect from JC/DC for spring 11 and how do the prices compare with the mainline?

For spring 11, JC/DC has an even more exotic feel than the pirate theme of spring 10. I’m looking at the Latin vibes, so expect big things. Going on autumn 10, prices for JC/DC range from £17 to £272 at wholesale, while the Jean-Charles de Castelbajac mainline ranges from £41 to £613.

What are your long-term aspirations for the brand?

I see JC/DC hotels in the not too distant future. Not five star hotels, but three star hotels that are accessible to the type of person that buys and wears the label, who lives the JC/DC lifestyle. The hotel will be designed in keeping with the signature saturated red, blue and yellow colours, and each will stock JC/DC products. International expansion will also continue - I’ll open a store in Los Angeles in 2011 and a store in Japan should also be going ahead.

What is your most valued possession?

Friendship. It’s the one thing I regret not having as much time as I wish for.

Who is your idol?

President Obama. He appeared when no one thought we would have another idol.

Which other designer’s autumn 10 collection do you admire?

I have a huge tendency for Giles’ work (pictured) as he worked with me, and another is William Tempest. I like to support my protégés.

What will your next purchase be?

A vintage Rolex will be my next purchase, and a Harley-Davidson in matt black.

Who are you following on Twitter?

Naturally, Lady Gaga.

Jean-Charles de Castelbajac is artistic director of the eponymous designer womenswear and menswear brand and diffusion range JC/DC

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