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Need for Speed

Culture Watch
Lancia (Bertone) Stratos HF Zero, 1970. Designed by Marcello Gandini.

We’re seeing a trend: prominent fashion designers are consumed with the world of cars, as much—if not more—than fashion itself. Lapo Elkann is notorious for his passion for cars and his latest camouflage Ferrari 458 Italia. Ralph Lauren’s enchantment with cars manifests in owning more than 70 vehicles including Porsches, Ferraris and his 1938 $40 million dollar Bugatti 57SC Atlantic Coupe.


What is it about cars that charms these designers like Johan Lindeberg, Kenneth Cole and Stefano Ricci? Perhaps it is the simple fact that both fashion and cars blend commodity and art form, or the fact that both crafts inspire and collaborate with one another. One thing is for sure; these car enthusiasts have “Dream Cars: Innovative Design, Visionary Ideas” at the High Museum of Art on their summer calendar.

Seventeen visionary cars from Ferarri, Bugatti, General Motors and Porsche were brought together for the High Museum’s automotive design exhibit. Akin to a fashion designers’ runway show, the exhibit will showcase car manufacturer’s most forward-thinking, groundbreaking designs with conceptual drawings, patents and scale models. These concept cars foreshadow a bright future of limitless possibilities in automotive design, so much so you may find yourself in an episode of The Jetsons.

Major automotive design events are not new to auto-admirers. In fact, Ralph Lauren has contributed to one such event, “L’Art de L’Automobile,” in Paris with the luxurious contents of his personal garage. “Dream Cars” examines how these large-scale events like Motoramas impact the design world by spreading innovative technology with a splash of glamour. Just as New York, Milan and Paris Fashion Weeks launch revolutionary fashion trends that domino across the global industry, “Dream Cars” is essential for the evolution of auto-design. “The concept cars presented in ‘Dream Cars’ demonstrate how design can transcend the present and offer new paths and opportunities for the future,” explains Sarah Schleuning, the exhibition’s curator.

The highlights of this summer’s automotive event include Paul Arzens’ “L’oeuf électrique,” which will travel to the US for the exhibit for the first time since it was made in 1942 during the German occupation in Paris. A 33-inch tall car by Marcello Gandini, “Stratos HF Zero” made in 1970 will surprise goers, and a 2001 BMW designed by Christopher Bangle starring a fabric exterior is sure to please the fashion aficionados in attendance.

The exhibition is on view through September 7, at Atlanta’s High Museum of Art.


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