World famed artist and fashion designer Jean-Charles de Castelbajac, also known as JC/DC, opened an art exhibition at the Blue Square Nemo Art Center in Hannam-dong, Seoul on June 11, 2015. Under the theme of ‘Shades of Tomorrow’, the exhibition, which was his first Asian exhibition, continued for 15 days through June 26, showing over 100 works of JC de Castelbajac, including preserved art works painted in the 1990s and latest ones created especially for this exhibition. Through art works, JC de Castelbajac presented his philosophy that the future is created by present creators, and expressed philosophical introspection of the society with utopian hope and wit. Designed by Art Delight, a leading art design firm, the exhibition was co-sponsored by Fashion Group Hyungji and French Embassy in Korea. The opening of the exhibition on June 11 was attended by a large number of art lovers and celebrities, including Chairman and CEO Choi Byung-oh of Fashion Group Hyungji, National Assembly member Chung Byung-kook and Director Daniel Ollivier of Institut Francais (French Cultural Institute).
JC de Castelbajac has enjoyed international success with some of his creations, including a coat of teddy bears worn by pop star Madonna and by supermodel Helena Christensen in the film “Pr?t-?-Porter”. Recently he has befriended artists such as M.I.A, Cassette Playa, Curry & Coco, and The Coconut Twins. His fashion archive was showcased in preparation for his retrospective "Gallie Rock" in Paris by photographers Tim and Barry, modeled by Cassette Playa, M.I.A., Jammer, Matthew Stone, Slew Dem Crew, and more.
In addition to his imaginative clothing collections, he creates home furnishings and has designed a watch inspired by the childhood favorite, Lego. Moreover, JC de Castelbajac is selected as the representative French artist for the 130th anniversary (2016) of diplomatic relations between Korea and France, and he was honored with the ‘Legion d’Honneur’, the highest order, from the French government in 2002.
At a meeting with the press, JC de Castelbajac said that he has been visiting Korea since early 1980s and has partnership relations with Fashion Group Hyungji. “Korea is a very friendly country to me, and it is not simply ‘Korea’ to me but ‘Koreame’. ‘Ame’ means soul in French. During my stay here, a large number of Korean friends including young artists visited me. I thought I would be happy to set up an atelier in Seoul,” he said. “As for commercialization of art, I believe the art, which is not popularized, is not an art. One of my best friends, Keith Haring, shares this position with me. Arts are not possessions of some wealthy people, but they should be used as means of developing the society.” Keith Haring opened a store to sell T-shirts printed with paintings of popular artists for about US$20. Though he was under fire because of that, he continued it. JC de Castelbajac added, “I think he revolutionized the world of art, and I want to spread the ‘pop virus’ across the world. In that sense, I am collaborating with Fashion Group Hyungji to create works that can get closer to the general public.
Meanwhile, Fashion Group Hyungji recently opened the 50th store, one of flagship stores, in busy business town in southern district of Seoul. Hyungji licensed marketing rights of JC de Castelbajac in Korea last year and launched the ‘Castelbajac Golf’ brand in March this year under the theme of ‘Dressing golf courses with art’. While growth of outdoor garment market is slowed down, golf ware market has tremendous potential. With mushrooming indoor and screen golf driving ranges, golf-player population is rapidly increasing. “No doubt that JC de Castelbajac is desired to design such golf wares that can be enjoyed anytime, anywhere with higher convenience and better functions than existing brands. I believe golf ware market has potential to replace outdoor garment market in the future,” said Chairman Choi Byung-oh of Fashion Group Hyungji. “The Castelbajac brand will put focus on enhancing its brand value by installing more stores at pivotal locations like Starbucks Coffee chain stores. I am confident that it will grow as one of top golf ware brands in the near future.”
As the Castelbajac brand is so popular, Fashion Group Hyungji gained over 100 million won (approx. US$91,000) in sales at each 6 stores in only a month after its launch. Hyungji’s ‘Castelbajac’ will continuously introduce JC de Castelbajac’s unique and creative golf wares to capture young-minded golf players who prefer daring colors and trendy design. As a 45-year old comprehensive fashion company, Hyungji offers premium quality ladies’ apparels, men’s apparels, students’ uniforms, outdoor garments and golf wares. Its popular brands include Crocodile Ladies, Chatelaine, Olivia Hassler, Ragello, Carries Note, Clamont, Yezac, BON, BON g-floor, North Cape, Wild Roses, Castelbajac, Elite and Bauhaus. In addition, Hyungji recently acquired EFC (Esquire), a leading shoes and fashion company, to expand its offerings and market presence.