Our cars, our clothes, ourselvesNothing turns heads faster than an immaculately dressed man or woman stepping out of a gorgeous car.
In Korean society, it’s the ultimate fashion statement: you are what you wear and what you drive.
That’s why Mercedes-Benz combined cars and clothes at the 2003 Korea Import Motor Show in Seoul earlier this month. There were some of its flagship models ― the S600, E320, C200 Kompressor, SL500 Roadster and CLK Cabriolet ― and plenty of luxury brands on parade; Louis Vuitton, Celine, Escada and Ermenegildo Zegna, to name a few.
“Mercedes-Benz’s image ― beauty, elegance, safety and reliablity ― is expressed through the artistic performances and the fashion shows at this exhibiton,” said Ivo Maull, the president of Mercedes-Benz Korea, explaining that fashion trends have long been important elements in the design of cars.
It’s not just design. It’s marketing, too.
BMW Korea has made a habit of sponsoring local fashion events and including fashion in its car shows. When BMW launched the 760Li in Korea last month, the car was displayed with a model wearing an elegant haute couture dress designed by the Paris-based Korean designer Ji Haye.
General Motors and the Italian jeweler Bulgari entered a partnership in 2000 to launch the Cadillac Imaj, a highconcept car, at the 2000 Geneva Auto Show. Bulgari designed the aluminum luggage and distinctive instrumentation for the car, adding a glamorous image to the American luxury car.
Mercedes, by comparison, came late to the party. Two years ago, it signed a multi-year agreement with 7th on Sixth Inc., the organizer of the New York Fashion Week, to market its cars beginning with the Fall 2001 collections. The combination ― New York, fashion, Mercedes ― is a powerhouse.
The formula was repeated in Korea in April during the 2003 Seoul Collection Week when Mercedes showcased its SL500 Roadster. The message to the young audience was clear: to be hip, you have to dress and drive hip.
Travel was the primary theme at this month’s motor show. So it was only natural that the legendary 1954 300SL Roadster, with its classic gull-wing doors, was matched with vintage Louis Vuitton suitcases.
Louis Vuitton’s fashion show featured simple, minimal designs. The women’s collection was light and bright, in candy colors reminiscent of the 1960s, accentuated by the latest Murakami bags. Jersey tops and dresses, lined with bold black taping, demonstrated how much designer Marc Jacobs is inspired by the Mod movement. Light-weight windbreakers for men and short trench coats in fuchsia for women were modeled as travel essentials.
The Spanish brand Agnona had its models decked out in tropical colors for the summer. Agnona’s collection was full of vibrant orange, apple green, lemon yellow and violet. The designer suggests that Korean women traveling overseas, or even to the a neighboring province, dress in breathable, stretchy fabrics. Agnona’s viscose knit tops are a good example. They were soft and cool to the touch. A sweater set in solid orange ― made from extra-fine summer wool ― were perfect atop skirts or pants. Light-colored, hip-hugging skirts provide comfort and sex appeal.
Escada Golf’s A-line skirts and slim capri pants are made of stretchy cotton. Simple combed-cotton shirts in are cool and colorful.
Celine presented its new line of pocket-laden accessories inspired by the charms of Paris. Its vest, cap, waist bag and tote bag were comfortable, functional and youthful ― and easy to match with most any outfit while traveling.
With the latest textiles and styling, businessmen can keep that crisp look, whether alighting from a sleek Mercedes in the posh Cheongdam-dong district of Seoul or a 747 at Incheon International Airport.
“For the new season, you need to break away from the old idea of matching classic items with classic items in the same materials only,” said Cho Sung-ki, the visual merchandiser for the Korean operations of Ermenegildo Zegna, the Italian men’s fashion house. “Think ‘classic meets sports’ and try to mix and match.”
At the auto show, the Zegna models wore classic navy blue blazers with beige cotton twill pants and soft, light-blue driving shoes instead of loafers or oxfords.
The driving shoes had comfortable rubber soles. The blazers were made of cool summer wool coated with Teflon, making them dirt resistant and waterproof.
“Who says you can’t wear a tie on a combed-cotton polo shirt?” Mr. Cho asked.
To add to the fun sense of styling, Zegna introduced a “twin tie” this season. It has two patterns ― striped on one side and solid on the other ― so its owner can change his look simply by flipping the tie.
Zegna’s all-linen summer jacket in comes without a heavy lining, functioning as something between a shirt and a jacket. It’s matched with either a delicately pin-tucked linen shirt or a seersucker shirt. The latest styling suggests that linen can be liberally matched with cotton or other blended fabrics and can be worn with or without a tie.
What do you do if protocol calls for a formal suit?
“That’s where high-technology comes in,” Mr. Cho says. Zegna’s classic pinstriped suit is made from a fine wool-silk blend, giving it a subtle blue-gray shimmer. It feels light as a feather and is virtually wrinkle free.
“That way, you can get out of a cramped seat and still look perfect,” he says, “as if you just stepped out of the tailor’s shop.”
Retro-chic patterns, equatorial-imbued colors revive fun for the fashionable
This summer’s fashion is about hanging around the world’s equatorial zones.
Bold tropical colors ― orange, violet, green, magenta, yellow ― dominate the designs by the top fashion brands.
Agnona, from Spain, introduces outfits that are ideal for traveling. To match solid pants or skirts, pack lightweight, comfortable jerseys and knitwear in sultry colors.
Stripes in bright colors and ’60s retro-chic geometric patterns are hot this season.
Bold flower patterns ― think “Hawaii Five-O” ― in similar color groups are recommended.
Be daring by wearing striking patterns.
And, while you’re at it, get your man to wear something that fits the trend, like flashy striped ties or an Austin Powers-style ascot.
Mixing and matching is in this season. Stylish men are wearing business jackets with cotton twill pants and comfortable shoes ― with or without a tie.
Ties this summer are fun, with splashy stripes or arresting patterns.
Relaxed, light-colored shoes call for color-coordinated belts or no belt at all.
Either polo or traditional button shirts can be worn beneath a blazer.
Suiting up means taking advantage of the latest technology.
Ermenegildo Zegna’s summer-wool blazer is coated with Teflon, which makes it resistant to dirt and water.
The original power suit, the pinstripe, shown at left, has been updated by Zegna with Tropeo, a blend of wool and silk, which feels soft and is light and cool. It gives off a lustrous blue-gray sheen. What’s more, it’s virtually wrinkle-free.
Rugged for men and refined for women, it’s a hot summer of cool contrasts
Adventurers get chic this season with Louis Vuitton.
A boxy jacket is draped over a comfortably fitting shirt. Military-inspired pants and lace-up trekking shoes complete the look.
Mineral colors ― gray, ochre, orange, teal green ― in cotton, silk and buffalo leather dominate Vuitton’s look.
Calvin Klein goes for simplicity in neutral colors ― white, ivory or black ― that are soft in silhouette.
Bold is out, delicate is in.
Characteristic Klein is the white cotton jersey and translucent nylon astronaut pants, at left. The mood is stylish, sophisticated and practical, even in full-gravity conditions.
Celine takes a trip to distant destinations. The designs exude sensuality with hot, spicy colors ― curry, nutmeg, marble, tangerine ― and bold patterns and Indian influences.
The look is rugged, casual and elegant. Throw Bollywood gold accents over a simple tank top. Add a crushed muffler to wrap the waist and neck.
The Spanish designer Jose Enrique Ona Selfa is all about leather this season.
Loewe’s leather is braided, taking its shape as embroidered flowers or straps that can be worn as belts.
The result is breathtakingly beautiful ― a feminine, colorful, handcrafted design that exudes Spanish heritage and history.
by Ines Cho