You can't help but wonder exactly when Jean-Charles de Castelbajac puts pen to paper to design his eponymous collection, so consistently does it parody exactly what we have witnessed on each season's catwalks. Take his Autumn/Winter collection as example - an ode to la Punkature, Blondie and Andy Warhol's fifteen minutes of fame. Colourful and Castelbajac to the core, the collection nevertheless managed to spin off its own pastiches of next season's big trends. Rock-chick leather - check, in black and Revlon-red biker dresses and jumpsuits, zip-scarred and with lipstick canisters worn like bullet-belts. Fur - check, a veritable Muppet Massacre with Henson's finest skinned for puffball Fonzie-fur skirts and a couple of hundred Kermits sewn together in a Plushy pile-up of a bolero. Eighties - check, a deluge of punky bad-taste leopard-print and visual puns worthy of Franco Moschino (witness the whiskers, tongue and tail on wildcat print courts). The Warhol influence resulted in white-blond wigs perched atop models' own hair and vaguely sixties shifts emblazed (again) with Pop-Op sequined portraits spouting real tresses, not least that of 'Pope of Pop' handy Andy himself. All zingy, hyperactive fun: but generally, the clothes are the one thing at a Castelbajac show that don't matter. Jean-Charles is a French institution, albeit an idiosyncratic one, and his low-priced, high-energy separates are poppy, preppy and profitable without any intellectual pretensions. There will always be a market for his bold (and, let's face it, slightly brainless) stick-out prom dresses, straight-cut suits and Surrealistic twist on utilitarian classics. And, as always, the finale is what sums up the moment - not just for Castelbajac, but for fashion in general. It was his 'Credit Crunch Couture' sequined 'Carte Gold' dress that hijacked many a newspaper front page last season, and for winter crafty Castelbajac followed up with a 'King of Crisis' dollar-bill dress and a triumphal march of Warhol-wigged models hurling money into the air and letting it flutter to the ground like yesterday's garbage. In essence, if you buy Castelbajac you'll be doing the same. But nevertheless, at least it'll be fun while it lasts.
All zingy, hyperactive fun: but generally, the clothes are the one thing at a Castelbajac show that don't matter.