Byline: Eric Wilson

NEW YORK — In a season where automobile makers seem to be getting as much mileage as possible out of fashion shows, Ford Motor Co. has gotten into the act by sponsoring 10 designers to create looks made from its car parts.
The designers, who have been working with Ford since September, will present several looks in a runway show at 8 p.m., Feb. 11 at The Cipriani 42nd Street, separately from Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. In other automotive news, BMW is sponsoring Thomas Steinbruck’s runway show.
Ford is presenting its event with the Integrated Marketing Group of Hachette Filipacchi Magazines, which has been promoting the venture through advertisements in Elle and Premiere in their January and February issues, as well as a billboard in Times Square. A 12-page supplement featuring their designs will appear in March issues.
“I looked at these industries as two highways running parallel to each other and at some point they merge,” said Al Silvestri, corporate creative director for HFM. “They share the elements of style, shape and design, so the challenge was to make the roads come together.”
Ford and HFM’s answer was to bring several of the designers to Ford’s assembly plants in Detroit, giving them tours of design studios and the challenge of creating apparel designs out of traditional car-making materials. The designers were rewarded with exposure through the ads and billboard. They also donated their sketches for auction to benefit the Susan G. Komen Foundation.
“One thing I learned was how much care goes into the design of a car, which takes years and years, as opposed to a dress, which is made in one season,” said Pixie Yates.
She created looks such as a trench coat made of upholstery fabric, trimmed in leather and embroidered with the “Ford Focus” logo, and a skirt and matching purse out of seat belts cut on the bias.
Tracy Feith took inspiration from the essence of Ford automobiles, describing his vision as designing from the perspective of being inside a car, looking out.
“It was a challenge to come up with a way that wouldn’t be obviously using car parts to make clothes,” Feith said. “I was interested in the movement and form of cars — their line, color and composition — and the movement of the object. People have a fixation on a certain kind of car that they like, which has a feel and life of its own.”
He drives a Honda.
David Rodriguez skipped the Detroit factory tours, but took inspiration in his designs from the movie “Blade Runner.” He considered the project an opportunity to express himself in a more editorial than commercial vein, and also a chance to use fabrics that are somewhat of a stretch — and we’re not talking limo here — from the materials he uses in his signature women’s collection.
“These fabrics are not luxe,” he said. “It’s an entry level car, and we focus on luxury fabrics. We sell Bergdorf Goodman”
His solution was to design leather body suits and gowns from velvetines and to use hardware such as headlights for accessories.
“It was really challenging to figure out what to do with the hardware,” he said. “I haven’t figured out what to do with the steering wheel yet.”
Also in the event are Alexandra Lind, Leonello Borghi, Charles Chang-Lima, DDC Lab, Geova, Debra McGuire and Keni Valenti.

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