The worlds of cars and fashion are becoming fast intertwined. A common sight is automakers teaming up with fashion brands through event sponsorships. The most prominent of which perhaps is the New York Fashion Week, which this year welcomed Lexus as auto sponsor after its five-year partnership with Mercedes-Benz came to an end. The New York Fashion Week: Men's event earlier this year also inked Cadillac to a multi-season partnership deal. At home, Audi was title sponsor of the Audi Fashion Festival from 2009 to 2014, after which the annual event was rebooted as the Singapore Fashion Week.
Increasingly though, automakers have sought to go a step further than monetary sponsorship, exchanging their usual metal canvases for silks and leathers that look right at home on fashion's runway. Since 2013, Porsche's fashion label, Porsche Design, has launched menswear, womenswear, shoes and accessories collections and has even presented at New York Fashion Week. Brit luxury automaker Bentley and French high-performance car manufacturer Bugatti have also released a number of collections, with the latter opening its first boutique in London last year. Bentley also launched a new luxury collection for men and women at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September. Last month, it released a capsule collection in collaboration with Singapore-based designer Ethan Koh.
Likewise, metal and automotive paint are becoming the new mediums for fashion designers who are increasingly collaborating with auto marques on special edition cars. Versace did so with Lamborghini and together they unveiled the limited edition Murciélago LP 640 at the Paris Motor Show in 2006. Each unit of the voguish supercar came with matching luggage, driving shoes and gloves from the Italian luxury label.
Bugatti also roped in Hermès in 2008 to create a much coveted version of the Veyron, titled the Bugatti Veyron Fbg par Hermès. Designed in partnership with product designer Gabriele Pezzini, the coupe sported the same bull calfskin interiors reminiscent of Hermès's Paris workshop while the door handles represented the label's handles of travel bags and luggage.
Even Korea's Hyundai worked with Italian house Prada to launch the limited edition Genesis Prada in 2012; Fiat unveiled the Fiat 500 by Gucci — a customised version of the iconic 500 model by then Gucci Creative Director Frida Giannini — at the 2011 Milan Fashion Week; and Chrysler collaborated with American menswear designer John Varvatos in 2013 to launch the Chrysler 300C John Varvatos Limited Edition. Most recently, Fiat worked with fashion house Diane von Furstenburg to launch a DVF-inspired Fiat 500X, the prize created for the “How I Became the Woman I wanted to Be” contest by E! Online's TV series, House of DVF. The winner of this glamorous car was announced early this month.
With so many swank collaborations in the market, we take a look at some of the industry's most recent style link-ups.
Land Rover x Paul Smith
Known for its trusty four-wheel-drives, Land Rover collaborated with British designer Sir Paul Smith early this year to mark the discontinuation of the long-serving model. The designer himself owns a Defender in Italy and is full of praise for the car, calling it a “British icon” that he is “exceptionally proud of”. So it is only befitting that this partnership has resulted in a unique, one-of-a-kind tribute to the famed four-by-four.
Working closely with the British automaker's Special Vehicle Operations design team, Sir Paul created a special edition bespoke Defender tailored to his own specifications. In his signature style, the exteriors of his edition sport a total of 27 colours, which were all chosen by the designer himself. The palette took inspiration from the British countryside and the colours that were seen on Defenders used by the Armed Forces back in the day. “I wanted deep rich colours, but at the same time, I wanted them to work together yet be surprising,” he says.
Inside, the car features special Paul Smith touches, such as blue stitching against black leather. Although it also retained much of its traditional elements, such as its wing mirrors, door handles and wheels, the traditional Defender clock was replaced with a Paul Smith fascia and many other playful tweaks, including a hand-painted bee adorning the roof, a tongue-in-cheek reference to the countryside and the car's heritage.
The Paul Smith and Land Rover Defender was revealed at the Paul Smith flagship shop on Albermarle Street, Mayfair in March 2015.
Jaguar x Stella McCartney
The XE may be a new addition to Jaguar's fleet of cars, but that didn't stop them from jumping on the collaboration bandwagon. Linking up with Stella McCartney, it debuted the XE at a star-studded event at London's Earls Court in early September 2014 before making its French debut during Paris Fashion Week. The car rolled out globally mid this year and made its Singapore launch in September.
The collaboration was a part of the automaker's Feel XE campaign, which saw the English designer dress the XE in her Superhero print from the Spring 2015 collection. “It was interesting to adapt my playful Superhero print for the XE, adding a feeling of empowerment to its exhilarating design,” she says.
Ian Callum, director of design for Jaguar adds: “It is a beautiful demonstration of Stella's commitment to elegance, style as well as functionality and performance, which are attributes that I looked to express in the Jaguar XE.”
Aston Martin x Valentino
In support of non-profit organisation Cash & Rocket, Aston Martin and Valentino came together to create a special edition of the car marque's well-loved Vanquish Volante model.
Customised by Aston's Q bespoke service, the one-of-a-kind drop-top sports car comes decorated with the Valentino camouflage pattern. Additionally, the Italian luxury label's iconic studs also adorn the interiors of the car, including the sides of the centre console. The stylish super-tourer, which is equipped with a 48-valve V12 engine, boasts a maximum power of 424kW at 6,650rpm and 0-100kph acceleration time of four seconds.
This customised unit was auctioned off during the Cash & Rocket Tour fundraising event held in London in May this year. The total figure raised was not released to the public, but the two firms have revealed that the proceeds were donated in entirety to charities that the organisation is involved in, including Shine on Sierra Leone, OAfrica and Sumbandila, which help African children and their families with healthcare and education.
Maserati x Ermenegildo Zegna
This partnership didn't just give rise to one car design, but two.
The first was the Maserati Quattroporte Ermenegildo Zegna Limited Edition in 2013, which saw the exterior covered in the exclusive Platinum Silk colour, formulated specially for the car. Inside, the cabin sports precious Ermenegildo Zegna fabrics that boast the same sensuous feel as the fashion label's traditional fabrics. With only 100 sedans available, each unit comes with a unique collection of accessories by the Italian fashion house, specially designed for Maserati.
Following the success of this first partnership, Maserati and Zegna teamed up for another concept car, offering the Maserati Ghibli Ermenegildo Zegna S Q4 Edition this year. Characterised by a new and exclusive Azzurro Astro colour, it is currently being launched across markets, with plans to reach Singapore this month. With the global unveiling of this latest collaboration, the carmaker also announced the availability of a new Ermenegildo Zegna interior package, where customers can choose from three colour combinations. It will also be available as an option for the Quattroporte and Ghibli from the end of this year.
From ruling the roads to ruling the boutiques, automakers roll out style collections with fashion partners
Land Rover x Barbour
Prior to working with Paul Smith, Land Rover also partnered British fashion brand Barbour to launch the Barbour for Land Rover Collection last August. Drawing on the traditions of both brands, the range — which includes men's and women's jackets, accessories and luggage — boasts high-end design and functionality. Both went on to release an Autumn/Winter 2015 collection, demonstrating a continued commitment to their working relationship.
Maserati x La Martina
Their strong partnership shows no sign of wavering. After releasing a capsule collection in Autumn 2014, the pair came together once more on the design of a commemorative shirt for Maserati's 100th anniversary. Part of the Autumn/Winter 2015/16 range, the Polo-Duvet La Martina for Maserati is designed with a medallion logo in embossed silicone to honour the House of the Trident. The collection debuted at Italy's men's fashion exhibition, Pitti Immagine Uomo.
BMW x Montblanc
A special exclusive collection, called Montblanc for BMW, was launched this year, bringing iconic products from both sides together — BMW's 7 Series and Montblanc's Meisterstück fountain pen. Made specially to go with the German automaker's favoured model, the Spring 2016 collection of leather products and writing instruments will be part of Bimmer's Lifestyle Collection and is available at selected stores worldwide.