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Page 2 / IDEAS, TRENDS, STYLE AND BUZZ | Fall 2001

Revving Up the Fashion Scene

Ford hosts a show in which models are clad in creations made recycled car parts and fabrics.


NEW YORK — Reconstruction has been driving fashion from Los Angeles to New York, with designers such as Magda Berliner and Miguel Androver ripping apart clothing and putting it back together to create one-of-a-kind looks.

Ford Motor Co. put a new spin on the recycling trend by enticing 10 designers to create fashionable garb from car parts. The novelty garments--none of which will be sold--were presented at a runway show the auto maker sponsored last week with Hachette Filipacchi Magazines.

Ford is just one of the auto makers using fashion to promote cars. Mercedes-Benz recently supplanted General Motors as the title sponsor of New York's fashion week. BMW also sponsored a show of a new designer last week.

At Cipriani restaurant across from Grand Central Station, Ford assembled an elevated runway with Focus cars displayed underneath. "Friends" fashion designer Debra McGuire sent out a model in a stunning and safe wedding gown made from inflated car air bags. Pixie Yates showed a multicolor miniskirt and matching purse created out of different color seat belts. Tracy Feith proved that the belts could also make a sexy bondage dress.

L.A. designer David Rodriguez's models carried headlights lit by battery packs hidden in shoulder bags. A bustier buckled neatly in the back with three seat-belt straps looked surprisingly chic as did a maxi coat of velour upholstery fabric. Rodriguez said designing the "Blade Runner"-inspired clothes was like a "crafts project."

McGuire said that what really got her motor running was the nubby insulation material under car floorboards from which she crafted boots and a coat. She also designed a skirt with appliques of orange and red flames, and a train made from a metal tailpipe.

The designer, who is costuming the upcoming film "Orange County," said she was intrigued by the project because "coming from L.A., you are what you drive."

"Buying cars is really not about security or price, it's about design, because cars are an accessory," said Anita Alban, an L.A.-based marketing consultant for Lincoln Mercury, who did the fashion show circuit last week, researching how Lincoln might get involved.

Auto makers are interested in associating themselves with fashion because, she said, "women are the main influencers of so many car purchases."

Designers benefit from the car connections too. Those clothes featured in the Ford Focus show are appearing in advertisements in March editions of Hachette magazines, including Elle and Premiere. The clothes also were featured last month on a block-long billboard in Times Square.

As Rodriguez said, "How could you pass that up?"

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