Car-forward fashion

By Sally Dominguez, 15 May 2015 Car Style

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Car-forward fashion

Love fashion but not so keen on cars? We take a look at eight times the fashion and car industries have collided to create clothes with attitude.

“Cars are almost like another layer of clothing you wear when you go out into the world” – Leslie Kendall, curator at Peterson Museum.

This statement is not so great if you’re cash-strapped and driving a beater. Fortunately, some of the most iconic vehicles have left an indelible impression on fashion by the masters of couture. Sometimes they worked, and other times… well, think Zoolander’s Derelicte collection! Alas, from rock and roll to the runway, here are a bunch of times a set-of-wheels inspired the stitch.

PIERRE CARDIN'S 1972 JAVELIN COLLECTION

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Aficionados of vintage rejoice. In 1972, fashion designer Pierre Cardin teamed up with American Motors Corporation (AMC) to design the interiors of the Javelin. It featured a six-stripe pattern in colours that matched the exterior: Trans Am Red, Snow White, Stardust Silver, Diamond Blue, Wild Plum and the limited Midnight Black. We know, the names of the colours mean nothing to you, but they sound so pretty, don’t they!?

CADILLAC CORSET (1989) BY THIERRY MUGLER

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In 1989, Mugler had a stroke of genius and released his Cadillac corset which has been donned by many over the years, including Naomi Campbell in a 1989 issue of Vogue Italia. The sexy sass is Mugler at his best and the optional black gloves with red tail-light detail take it up a notch. Broom broom indeed!

MOTORCYCLE BUSTIER (1992) BY THIERRY MUGLER 

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Technically a bike but what is a missing pair of wheels among fashionistas? Anyone too young to have seen it stalking through George Michael’s Too Funky video clip would have caught it on bodacious Beyoncé’s I Am… Sasha Fierce album. Resplendent with side mirrors, handbrakes, handles for resting, and a quilted derriere for sitting, this leather-fringed motorcycle bustier is the epitome of biker grrrl! If it’s good enough for Beyoncé….

"TRAILER TRASH" HANDBAGS BY CARS (2001) BY JOHN GALLIANO FOR DIOR

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John Galliano designed the controversial and wildly successful Trailer Park collection for Dior in 2001, glorifying “the status symbols of an invisible class” with accessories that were a blend of Cadillac and Fender guitars. The bags, which were part of the Trailer Trash range, featured miniature steering wheels to fasten the strap to bags, tiny taillights, perforated tuck-and-roll upholstery, door handles and reflectors. The 1947 license plate adorning the bags, was a link to the year Dior opened his Avenue Montaigne boutique. We’re not sure if this is très chic or très ick.

PRET-A-PORTER STREETKA (2004) BY BRUCE OLDFIELD

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Possibly the only car-inspired dress actually constructed by the car maker, the Streetka dress was a collaboration between designer Bruce Oldfield and Ford to raise money for charity and awareness for the Thunderbirds movie. Oldfield incorporated 85 car parts including the pink fiberglass corset, a chocker made from the car’s clock, and a peek-a-boo skirt made from the mesh of the front grille plus cable ties. We’re pretty sure Jennifer Mirrson and Selena Gomez wore something similar, once, minus the cables.

AMERICAN DREAM American Dream WEARABLE ART BY SARAH THOMAS

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Kiwi and Timaru artist Sarah Thomas took out the 2009 World Wearable Art competition with her wearable 1950s Cadillac costume. Created from vinyl, leather, papier-mâché, builders foam and plastic, this dress features a perky bustle, ‘chromium’ conical breastplate and matching winged helmet and a detached steering wheel for impact – how could you go wrong? Fancy dress party anyone?

PRADA SPRING/SUMMER 2012 SHOES STYLED ON CLASSIC CARS

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Miuccia Prada’s Spring/Summer 2012 shoe collection was inspired by classic American cars. The campaign featured models atop vintage cars at a 1950s-style American gas station. The hot rod-heels were designed using flames, spoilers, wings, taillights, patent vinyl and chrome, perfectly capturing the 1950s, an era when the automobile changed the face of American culture. Hashtag, love!

GIVENCHY SPRING 2014 MENSWEAR FEATURING TRANSFORMERS 

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Men already identify their car affiliations with branded shirts, hats and muscle car graphics, but Givenchy’s creative director, Ricardo Tisci, took it to a whole new fashion level in 2014. Officially titled Nerd African, the extensive use of those car/robot graphics on the clothes and the models’ faces is 100 per cent Transformer – it would seem Optimus Prime can transform himself into more than a Fire Engine.