Jean-Charles de Castelbajac was amazed to hear Jay-Z owns 150 of his jumpers, as he never really liked hip-hop.

The designer worked at label Iceberg in the 80s and was instrumental in creating the cartoon-emblazoned tops it was so famous for. The sweaters were a hit with many famous rappers, which surprised Jean-Charles as that wasn’t the demographic he was originally going for.


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“This was huge, actually. The 90s were not so much my period because so much was minimalist, but the hip-hop community was totally fascinated by these really particular sweaters of mine. LL Cool J explained to me that it’s an urban crest, or coat of arms. Jay-Z has collected 150 of them,” he explained. “I was amazed because originally I was not a fan of hip-hop – I was more electro. But when I realised, it was a really huge pleasure.”

The designer has used all he learnt with that line for his skiwear creations at Rossignol. He explained there is a lot of crossover because clothing designed for the slopes is not unlike the hip-hop aesthetic. He particularly enjoys coming up with the pieces because he imagines what they will look like against the snow, making the colours seem more exciting.

“In the hip-hop community there is this idea of loose and cool, and you have that also in the skiwear collection,” he told style.com. “It’s really another development that I’m doing in my prêt-a-porter line, which is evolving to be a twisted chic, a new funky bourgeoisie. Rossignol is exciting because you work like a painter on the blank canvas of snow. And in skiwear, what is very interesting is the duality between your imagination and the challenge of technology.”

Jean-Charles de Castelbajac fears fashion ‘robots’

Jean-Charles de Castelbajac is terrified fashion will start being designed by “robots” now it is such a huge industry.

The Paris-based designer loves fashion because it is so flamboyant, and allows people to show their true personalities. He worries this might change, particularly following the death of Alexander McQueen last year and John Galliano’s recent sacking from Christian Dior amid racism claims.

Both of those designers were renowned for creating extravagant pieces which were only really at home on the catwalk, and Jean-Charles doesn’t want to see such creations become a thing of the past.

“We have lost recently two huge designers of extravaganzas who have made immense contributions to fashion. Alexander McQueen last year, and now John, for another reason,” he said. “But in an artist’s life sometimes you build a lot on your failures, on your wound, and sometimes when you have pressure you can fail. But what scares me with what’s happening is that I would not like that the collection be designed by fonctionnaires—robots.”

The designer is amazed by how fashion is moving on nowadays, and how interested people are in it from an early age. He thinks it’s good that young people are pickier and make designers work harder for their approval, as he thinks it will create some good work in the long term.

“There is a maturity in today’s youth – it’s the same maturity I can feel in my grandson playing on his iPad at three years old,” he told style.com. “Kids educate themselves very early. They will not be satisfied by just initials on the edge of underwear – that’s not enough anymore. You have to give creativity for low prices.”

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