MILAN — Both brands stand for success and luxury. Both invest millions in design and research. Now, German automaker Mercedes-Benz has enlisted Giorgio Armani to create a $50,000 limited-edition model.
On Monday, the Mercedes-Benz CLK Giorgio Armani Design Car prototype was presented at the designer’s theater here, kicking off the spring shows.
An upbeat Armani, galvanized by “very successful” September sales, even sent a quick frisson through the press corps, announcing he had taken a 50 percent stake in the car company. Jokes aside, Armani said this “was a wonderful chance to experiment — I never imagined I would have tried my hand at designing cars,” although he confessed a passion for driving. In his typical understated style, Armani, whose recent forays into nonfashion-related products include a complete home collection, his Armani Dolci pralines, a music collaboration with Sony, a restaurant venture with Nobu and Armani Flowers, said he didn’t want anything too ostentatious. “But I like to believe that, as when you wear my jackets, you can feel the difference,” said Armani.
Joachim Schmidt, vice president of Mercedes Car Group, said the venture was triggered by Mercedes-Benz’ sponsorship of the five-city world tour of the Solomon Guggenheim Giorgio Armani retrospective exhibition, which took off in Berlin last May. Schmidt added that “a crossover of the automotive and fashion design worlds can help expand both our markets.”
For the Mercedes CLK, Armani said he wanted to bring back a sense of antique luxury with a modern touch, but not retro. Accordingly, for the interiors, Armani employed a natural-looking leather used in the Forties in saddle brown and combined it with high tech sportswear fabrics. The car’s body is finished in a semimatte sand shade veering toward green. “I liked the semimatte idea because I didn’t want the body to reflect the lights of the city, and also, cars today are so metallic and shiny, you can’t even understand whether they are luxury or utility cars,” said Armani. For the first time, the tires are military green.
Armani and Schmidt said they were evaluating future “joint projects.”