Jean-Charles de Castelbajac has built his reputation atop a mountain of plush toys and playful rehashes of pop touchstones; in recent seasons he's referenced Cocteau and John Everett Millais' Ophelia, so something as quotidian as a French Riviera theme came as more of a shock than his papal robe ever could.
But the designer's take on the Riviera for JC de Castelbajac's
Resort '15 collection was mercifully more than Breton stripes and a far cry from the saccharine, retro-inspired fare that often goes hand in hand with To Catch a Thief/Bardot references. Instead, de Castelbajac offered up a graphic, tongue-in-cheek take on the Sud. A basket-weave motif was central, seen in prints from micro to macro, to different effect: While a tiny incarnation had classic appeal, the same shapes felt downright delightfully bondage-y when translated into oversize straps on a pair of tight white high-waisted shorts. Close-fitting intarsia knits will do well for brisk nights on the Croisette (or a Meatpacking rooftop) and looked just as nice dressed up with Lurex in an abstract beach umbrella design.
In mashing up classic silhouettes like sixties A-line shifts with sportier pieces such as sweatshirts and bombers, de Castelbajac—who threw his hat into the inter-season ring just last year—has created clothes that may be destined for broader appeal than his typical fare. To say nothing of charming bagatelles like trompe l'oeil detailing or text ("Sur la plage abandonnée") tucked into a shimmering, sheer kick pleat on a pencil skirt. Elsewhere, embroidered olive parakeets trimmed flyaway edges and perched on shoulders. And perhaps de Castelbajac has hit on something here: Never underestimate the power of an avian pocket or epaulet to delight.