In 1980 he formed a company making jewellery. He still collaborates with other designers, making accessories for Thierry Mugler and Jean-Paul Gaultier.
His clothing design salon was started in 1985, and his first collection was shown in Paris that same year.
In 1996, Jean Colonna signs a licence of exclusive distribution with Kashiyama of Japan. The following year, he arranges for Italian distribution with the firm of Gibo. In 1997, his first boutique opens in Tokyo.
Jean Colonna sets off fantasies of dark, smoky nightclubs, red light districts and motel rooms. Working with cheap synthetic fabrics he has elevated the trashy underground to the level of fashion.
He has been nicknamed the king of Paris downtown chic and also the King of Gallic Grungewear. These names do not fully describe his range as a designer.