Jean-Charles de Castelbajac Teases a Revolutionary New Sneaker With Le Coq Sportif

Jean Charles de Castelbajac, Empire of
Jean Charles de Castelbajac, Empire of Collaboration exhibition.
FN staff

According to designer Jean-Charles de Castelbajac, “sneakers are the most modern thing in the world right now. When I see the work of designers like Virgil Abloh and Pharrell and I see the collaborations, it’s the most exciting discipline of today.”

He has collaborated on a new sneaker with French brand Le Coq Sportif, launching later this month. Called “Blason,” the shoe will have a new logo like a coat of arms.

“I tried to bring in all I know about technology and hijacking and appropriation to create a new generation of sneaker. The concept is one sneaker that’s three sneakers,” he said cryptically. “You will have to wait to see it, it’s going to be a revolution.”

Jean Charles de Castelbajac, Empire of Collaboration exhibition. If Adidas made whales: Jean Charles de Castelbajac, Empire of Collaboration exhibition. FN staff

The maverick French designer knows a thing or two about sneakers. And about collaborations. Over the past decade, he’s teamed up with brands from Louis Vuitton to Nike. His new art exhibition, appropriately titled, “The Empire of Collaboration,” opened Saturday in Paris.

“I wanted to show that everything in the world today is about collaboration and marketing,” he said of his the show at the Magda Danysz Gallery, with the goal of opening dialogue and getting people to ask questions.

Jean Charles de Castelbajac, Empire of Collaboration exhibition. The 12 apostles: Jean Charles de Castelbajac, Empire of Collaboration exhibition. FN staff

There were renderings of sneakers with the signatures of famous artists like Albrecht Dürer, in which you would expect to see a logo. Key motifs included the notion of “appropriation and hijacking,” he noted. Branding and logos were also high on the agenda. Adidas’ famous trefoil appeared daubed on the side of a whale while the Nike swoosh was reimagined as a hieroglyphic. “If people saw it in 3,000 years, would they be like ‘what IS this?” he mused.

Never one to pander to political correctness, he also showed  a massive canvas in which he imagined a dozen sneakers as the 12 apostles under an orange “cross of collaboration,” that was reminiscent of Abloh’s Off-White logo.

Jean Charles de Castelbajac, "Time Capsule." Jean Charles de Castelbajac, “Time Capsule.” Diane_Arques