A visit at le Mondial de l'Automobile that takes place at Portes de Versailles until the 14th of October was the opportunity to know more about Mercedes and its relationship to fashion as we know the brand is very involved in most of main fashion weeks around the world.
Interview with Marc Langenbrinck, General Manager of Mercedes-Benz France :
What makes sense between the values of Mercedes and the world of fashion ?
Marc Langenbrinck : Mercedes-Benz has been creating a dream for the past 125 years, forged by the values of quality, elegance and a deep respect of our customers. But we are reaching a turning point. It is important to shake up our codes which may appear, above all in France, a bit dusty. We want to be more modern, vigorous and creative, which also corresponds to the DNA of our brand. Our proximity to fashion through our partnerships to the main international fashion weeks shows that. This also requires to be more accessible : why should you wait 15 to 20 years for buying your Mercedes ? Our new model Classe A can enter the budget of the young generations.
Can Mercedes be considered as an icon ?
ML : Mercedes is stylish of course, but it is not enough. To become and remain an icon requires a constant questioning and a focus on creation. Our designers have always sought to draw shapes, a very avant-garde sculptural language that doesn't really get old along decades. Such a mythical model as the 300 LS Papillon is still considered as one of the 3 most beautiful pieces of artwork in the car history.
How does the brand get fed by fashion ?
ML : To get an iconic status also means to know how to associate its brand to other exceptional worlds and learn about their tools and mechanisms. One of our last advertising campaigns (winter 2012) shot by photographer Alex Prager (Awarded Best Creative Direction by ASVOFF Festival in 2010) with model Lara Stone, totally embodies the fashion codes. Its variation into a fashion film was incomparably fresh and innovative for our industry. I find fashion fascinating for being synonymous with a constant renewal. Its creative capacity inspires us much, not only due to the innovative work it brings on garments, but also in the way fashion transforms the everyday life, creates new habits.
Mercedes-Benz fashion film by Alex Prager with Lara Stone
Do you believe a fashion designer could ever be involved in the design of a vehicle ?
ML : Unfortunately for us, even if we are aware of the strong similarities between the work of a fashion designer and the one of a car designer, the development of a car still takes 6 to 7 years long, which is not compatible enough with the pace of fashion.
Conversely, have you already thought to practice your industrial and creative experience on other industries, like fashion ?
ML : Gorden Wagner, our vice-president at Design Mercedes-Benz Cars regularly has some discussions with great couturiers. On the other hand, we have recently built a collaboration between Smart and Jeremy Scott who had been strongly amazed by our self-heating fabrics. It was easy for him to project such a technology on shoes. It cannot be said we have already entered a real cooperation with fashion on aspects related to research & development, but we have 15 000 designers who get up every morning with a new idea. Our brand is the most productive one in terms of deposits of patents. Why shouldn't we propose our pool of expertise to other people indeed ?
Beyond a now very established presence on most of fashion weeks, wouldn't Mercedes be tempted to be involved more deeply in the system of fashion ?
ML : This is precisely a point we want to develop next year. Things are being set up now for no longer being limited to a simple presence but to also have something to say and play a role as an actor. This can occur through an association with the main prescribers in the fashion industry, but also through a closer look on young designers.
The rest of the trade show was also very inspiring considering the work of brands in the mise en scene of their models, the new colors of car bodies and the shapes of some of the concept cars. You can also feel the development of new energies such as electricity brings new futuristic visions in car design.
Some other cliches of the mood of the tradeshow :