It was uncomfortable and hot and scratchy," says fashion model Jessica Bamberger, standing outside New York's Alliance Française. She had just capped off a Rossignol fashion show by donning a ski suit resembling the mythical Himalayan beast, the Yeti.
"The Yeti is metaphoric," explains designer Jean-Charles de Castelbajac, a well-established Paris fashion guru who made his name at age 22 by designing clothing for Charlie's Angels. His first foray into winter sports, this season's Rossignol Technical Outerwear (RTO) line, features waist-length bomber jackets with ribbed sleeves ($600) and ski pants with a faux-fur chap on one leg ($500). The line also includes the hip-huggers (with flames licking up from white cuffs, $350) that French halfpipe snowboarder Doriane Vidal wore to the U.S. Open in March.
Rossignol's RTO skiwear has been available in France for eight years, but company leaders decided they needed something even more...French. So they hired de Castelbajac. "We wanted to have some stuff that broke a few barriers," says Jeanne-Marie Gand, Rossignol's U.S. vice president of communications. "At this point, you see people out there who are willing to express themselves differently."
As for Bamberger, she usually walks runways for brands like American Eagle and The Limited. But she managed to look nonchalant strutting in the head-to-toe get-up of long white "fur." As she turned at the end of the runway, de Castelbajac shouted excitedly from stage left, "Slow down! Walk like a Yeti!"