Colours, textiles, patterns, symmetry: these are the things that mould both the fashion and the automotive worlds. So it’s only natural that every now and then, these two industries stitch, clash and fuse together in interesting ways. From denim and damask to Donegal tweed, here are 10 occasions when automotive and fashion have given birth to good, bad, and ugly cars!
1. Rover 25 “Art Car” by Matthew Williamson
Brit fashion designer Matthew Williamson is known for his whimsical use of colour and pattern but in 2002 he the phrase "pink is the new black" to a whole new level and Rover bore the brunt of it. A fuscia interior, Persian carpets and metallic pink grill with gold highlights embodied Williamson’s vision of “Bollywood meets the Moulin Rouge”, turning the straight-laced Rover into straight up bordello.
2. Jaguar XE Superhero by Stella McCartney
Debuting at the October 2014 Paris Motor Show, Jaguar hired Stella McCartney to garnish its XE sport sedan. The result was an average-looking black sedan covered in superhero heads – a design taken straight from McCartney’s Spring 2015 range. We’re pretty sure the brief probably used words like “fun” and “fashionable”, but we’re wondering if “nightwear” was also a requirement. Possibly not, but while it’s certainly entertaining, we think this is one occasion a car should remain behind closed garage doors.
3. Jean-Charles de Castelbajac Royal Renault Twingo
Known as JC/DC, this OTT French fashion designer once kitted 5500 members of the clergy in rainbow colours for the papal World Youth Day, so a brief from Renault in 2012 to design a “high luxury” tiny car was bound to bring the unexpected. Legless throne seats are of course an obvious choice in a city car, while the sinister matte-black exterior coupled with creamy damask lining and heavy drapery tip this tiny moving bolthole into ‘Lord of the Brothel’ territory.
4. Gucci edition Hornet Sportabout
An oldie but a real goodie. In 1972 American Motors Corporation (AMC), a now-defunct US automaker, declared that its fashion-forward Hornet Sportabout wagon would “do more for the American housewife than all the lip gloss, hair colouring and false eyelashes put together”. For just $140, the ‘Sportabout Gucci Package’ put AMC on the fashionista map, with double Gs on the headliners and front bumper, fabulous Gucci-striped seats, and exteriors in Hunter Green, Grasshopper Green, Snow White or Yucca Tan. So much cooler than the Fiat 500 Gucci.
5. Lincoln Continental Designer Series
Ah, the fashion-prescient 70s! The Lincoln Continental Designer cars are still a benchmark for how the fashion/automobile intersection can reap huge style and economic benefits for all. Lincoln launched its 1979 Designer series, featuring Givenchy, Cartier, Pucci and American designer Bill Blass, to compete with the high-end European brands entering the US market. The attention to detail remains class-leading, from Pucci’s sparkle-red exterior and silver roof to the Blass gold anchor seat detailing and the Cartier clocks. Each edition came with Sir’s own colour-coordinated tiepin, money clip and cufflinks.
6. Spencer Hart CLS63 Shooting Brake
The modern version of the gentlemanly Lincolns might be the 2013 Mercedes Benz Shooting Brake in a sophisticated Nick Hart Midnight Blue, divested of the usual chrome highlights. Inside, the complete immersion in top-stitched chocolate leather oozes Christian Grey boardroom luxe. Possibly the ultimate school pick-up car, this thing blows every other ‘family’-shaped vehicle out of the water.
7. Denim Fiats, Jeeps and Gremlins
Top-stitched denim is a perennial fashion and vehicle fave. In 1973 the Levi’s Gremlin was “the economy car that wears the pants”, with orange stitching, rivets and faux-denim upholstery. Two years later, Levi’s created a top and interior denim option for Jeep that was so popular it ran until 1986. Twenty-six years later, denim has gone from all-American to urban cool with the 2012 Diesel Fiat 500, swathed in yellow-topstitched black denim and oozing ‘urban survivor’ cool through those Mohican logo hubcaps.
8. Victoria Beckham Range Rover Evoque
The Posh Evoque boasts a “masculine” matte-grey exterior with rose gold trim, extensive leather and a four-piece luggage set. All for twice the price of a regular Evoque. No word on whether the seats are sized for skinny-people only, but ironically Posh couldn’t fit her own family into this car.
9. Zegna Quattroporte Maserati
Limited to 100 cars only, The Zegna Quattroporte Maserati boasted a finish created from aluminium pigments to create “the purity of metal with the soft look of silk”, as well as an impeccably tailored interior of Testa di Moro chocolate and Greige. It goes without saying that the “Owner’s Collection” of travel accessories was a stand-out – in a very understated way.
10. Hermès Bugatti Veyron
A mere $2.4 million brings you a 2009 Bugatti Veyron Fbg par Hermès. With lashings of hand-tooled bull calfskin and Hermès rebadging on the grille and air intake, it doesn’t get more rarefied and droolworthy than this. From the wrong angle though, the tan bonnet can look like a repair job. Best experienced from the inside looking out.