• Jean-Charles de Castelbajac-the Mona Lisa dress

    This notice was published in the catalogue of the french exhibition Collector, Œuvres du Centre national des arts plastiques, pp 132-133, Skira Flammarion, Paris, 2011

    catalogue front page

    version française disponible ici

    This exhibition takes place in le Tripostal in the city of Lille from october 5, 2011 to January the first, 2012.


    In 1983, Jean-Charles de Castelbajac created a collection of "tribute gowns" that juggle fashion, the visual arts, History and pop culture : a long line of models wearing dresses emblazoned with Edith Piaf, Louis XIV and Mona Lisa. The previous year, he already had exploited the art of Ben and Robert Combas in his "picture-gowns". Almost all of Jean-Charles de Castelbajac's collections proclaim this love for art, from the 1980s, with dress-objects -baby sisters of Pop art- and others showing Lascaux cave paintings, to 2009 with his gown representing Andy Warhol, and still more recently in his fall-winter 2011-2012 collection where, following the same principle as for the Mona Lisa gown, he reproduces on fabric Man Ray's Oeil and Le violon d'Ingres.

    Jean-Charles de Castelbajac-Mona Lisa dress

    Jean-Charles de Castelbajac's way with exhibitions displays similar finesse : in 2006 the Victoria and Albert Museum of London opened its doors to stage a retrospective called Popaganda : The Fashion Style of J-C de Castelbajac ; the ashion museum in Paris offered him carte blanche in 2007, resulting Gallierock ; in 2009, again in London, he illustrated famous pictures with the logos of great names from the world of couture, such as Dior, Yves Saint Laurent or Louis Vuitton for the show The Triumph of The Sign ; in 2010, the creator continues his artistic oeuvre in Paris with The Tyranny of Beauty.

    "I don't make fashion. I use it as a medium. What fascinates me is installation, performance, transversality*"-a tendency Jean-Charles de Castelbajac has repeatedly demonstrated in his talented prêt-à-porter creations. The Mona Lisa dress is just one component in what has the potential to become a festival celebrating art in all its forms. In the context of Jean-Charles de Castelbajac's analysis, wearing this dress means more than just appropriating one of the most famous face in the whole history of art : "what I love above all is to take part in a performance. For me, a dress contributes to the construction of an image**." And how better to let fashion speak for itself than with this smile which has been admired for centuries ?

    *Jean-Charles de Castelbajac quoted by Patrick Cabasset, Libres Artistes, L'Officiel de la mode n°931, Dec. 2008-Jan. 2009, pp 190-195


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