He is the king of color. Jean Charles de Castelbajac is the creative director of Benetton, Pantone’s textile paradise. Dynamic, avant-garde, he put the rainbow on Pope John Paul II’s tunic.
In a wide-ranging interview with Efe Agency, he explains the relationship between color and major sports brands. From Ferrari red to Wimbledon’s green and violet, through Athletic Bilbao’s ‘barge’ blue or Manchester City’s sky blue. Such are the secrets and impacts of ‘the colors of life’.
Colors are universal, you can find them everywhere, from the cheapest product to the most expensive stone. That’s why the rainbow represents humanity. Colors unite us all’, assures Jean Charles de Castelbajac, who analyzes the infinite potential that colors acquire when they come together with sport.
Faith, spirituality, solidarity and inclusion are fundamental elements for the French designer, who worked for Pope John Paul II during the 1997 Youth Day, revolutionized the ‘color map’ of Air France’s extra-luxury cabins and also worked in the sports field, creating for Robe di Kappa the athletes’ equipment for the Los Angeles Olympic Games.
The red of Ferrari, symbol of the desire to excel and a winning mentality, the green of Wimbledon, light, classic and sustainable, and the blue of Athletic Bilbao or Manchester City, symbol of hope even in grey moments, move him.
FERRARI RED: PASSION, REVOLUTION AND BRUTALITY
Everyone in the world knows the red of Ferrari, the Italian racing team that, born from an idea of Enzo Ferrari in Maranello, made history in the world of motor racing. According to some estimates, in the 1990s, 85% of the road cars sold by the ‘Prancing Horse’ were red. A symbol of status and speed.
Enzo Ferrari wanted strong, intense emotions. That’s why he chose the black horse on yellow background of the family of Francesco Baracca, one of the best Italian pilots and heroes of the First World War. Having a black horse with a yellow background, he needed an intense color, with a strong contrast. That’s why he opted for red,’ de Castelbajac explained to EFE.
‘If you wear that color, you can’t be a loser. It’s a matter of being noticed when you compete. It’s a color of passion, extreme, revolutionary, even brutal at times’, he adds.
Extreme color and extreme responsibilities. It is the turn of Spain’s Carlos Sainz and Monaco’s Charles Leclerc to drive Ferrari’s single-seaters in Formula 1 this year, with the ambition of leading a renaissance of the Italian team and returning to the motor racing elite.
WIMBLEDON GREEN: SUSTAINABLE, ELEGANT AND NATURAL
It is the garden of the Swiss Roger Federer, eight-time champion, and was the theater of some of the matches that wrote the legend of tennis, such as the triumph of the Spanish Rafa Nadal, precisely against ‘King Roger’ in 2008.
The green of the grass court, the seats, the trees and the roofs of the buildings of the All England Club is an icon of world sport. It is a symbol of a sustainable, fresh, traditional and elegant world.
For me it is difficult to talk about green, but it is a reference of ecology on our planet. It also represents elegance connected to nature. And it also
It brings with it some paradoxes, because some actors don’t want to wear green because they think it brings them bad luck,’ says De Castelbajac.
Wimbledon green is complemented by purple, its complementary color. It’s a very English color, it’s chic and alternative. You don’t usually see purple in Spain or France, except in religious buildings,’ he adds.
BARGE BLUE AND SKY BLUE: PRIDE AND HOPE IN THE FACE OF ADVERSITY
The passion for the origins, for the culture of a region or a city is reflected in the Gabarra blue, the traditional boat in which Athletic Bilbao players usually celebrate their titles, or in the sky blue of the shirts of Manchester City, brand-new Champions League finalists with Spaniard Pep Guardiola at the helm.
Blue is a color that gives hope, it gives you good vibes, especially at this time of pandemic. During these months of pandemic we made a new blue color map, precisely to send a message of encouragement,’ de Castelbajac tells EFE.
‘The sky blue of Manchester City means looking at the sky. Manchester is a gray city, with an ugly climate, that’s why they look to the sky’, emphasizes the French designer. Indeed, the ‘Citizens’ touched the sky this week by sealing their ticket to their first Champions League final.
THE COLORS AND THE COURAGE TO DARE
Daring, questioning normality and looking for new ways to express your own personality are key elements in today’s fashion. This is demonstrated by the radical change made by some of the most prestigious design firms, which abandoned common colors to go for more eccentric colors.
It was the 1970s when, for example, De Castelbajac took up the challenge of making the most pronounced colors fashionable also in the higher classes of society, where a color map between white, beige and pearl gray prevailed.
I’m proud to be the first to break those rules. In the 1970s eccentric colors were not fashionable, but a project of my life was to bring color to the first class. Now everyone works with colors, Prada was always black and now it has a lot of color. Also Gucci did the same,’ he assures.