Esmeraldorado was the name of JCDC's Spring collection. Would the Hunchback of Notre-Dame go to the mysterious city of gold? Would Esmeralda ditch Quasimodo in the emerald forest for a conquistador? Or would this be a playful clash of Oscar Niemeyer modernist architecture with the motifs of wild, tropical Brazilian nature? Of course it was the latter, but anything is possible in the world of de Castelbajac. And since the setting was the Oratoire du Louvre, where rainforest foliage crept in around the exit to the catwalk, the other two possibilities were not ruled out until the show began.
For a designer who has made attire for pop stars and for pontiffs—de Castelbajac once had a famously controversial commission from the Vatican for the Pope's visit to Paris—this season's outing could be seen as a fairly sober affair. The music might have been by Superpitcher, but the collection was not delivered at a super pitch. The prints in the first section focused on the motif of Niemeyer's architecture and the foliage of the forest in black, gray, and green. That was one of the most successful parts of the show. The other, later on, was the yellow, black, and white palm tree and cityscape print that recapped similar themes, but had a slightly more Fornasetti quality to it. Each of these sections displayed de Castelbajac's charm in capturing the cartoony and playful aspects of clothing. What was less successful were the plastic pieces that were neither real nor fantastical enough, but hovered in an awkward territory—a bit like the cloud formations that sprouted from one model's shoulders. De Castelbajac is capable of so much more as a designer, and can be dismissed too easily with this collection. After all, it's not everyone who gets the holy seal of approval by the Vatican and Madonna.