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Designer cars

The high-end Italian fashion label worked with the Korean carmaker for more than four months on the project, which will result in a very limited edition of three cars to be called the Genesis Prada.

The makeover includes Prada-designed — and built – 20” alloy wheels, matte metallic midnight blue paint set off by accents in titanium and dark matte gold plating on the badging, radiator grill and exterior handles.

In the cabin, Prada’s signature ‘saffiano’ leather was used to give “a luxurious and sophisticated finish” to the artisan-crafted dashboard and upholstery. And anybody who’s been within hand’s reach of the fashion house’s shoes or bags will be betting that press blurb statement is, for once, not too far from the truth.

This isn’t the first time there has been a collaboration between the catwalk and the car industry.

French `luggagerie’ Hermes last year worked with Bugatti on the Bugatti Veyron Fbg par Hermès. Hitting the showroom floor at an estimated $3 million-plus, the Fbg featured interior surfaces “sheathed in bull calfskin” – although why the little girl calves were shunned for the task, nobody could explain.

Among other touches, the door handles echo the shape of those on Hermes travel bags, and glovebox was redesigned to hold “a selection of small travel accessories and a zipped Hermes wallet” while the leather-lined trunk carries a specially fitted hand-made case.

Even as far back as nearly four decades ago, Italian brand Gucci kitted-out a car for the American Motor Corporation – the manufacturer that bought the struggling Harley-Davidson badge and further ruined it before the Davidson family redeemed it into the merchandising powerhouse of today.

For AMC, Gucci ran the red, green and beige livery over the trim of the 1972-73 Hornet ‘Sportabout’ station wagon. It was hideous, of course. And sold like hotcakes in the US. Naturally.

Louis Vuitton’s history has long been tied to transportation – as the inventor of the first `trunk’ — so no surprises when it got in on the act with Chrysler for a version of the retro PT Cruiser. The Louis Vuitton Edition included extra chrome, ‘LV’ logo fabric upholstery and saddle leather trim.

And not all the action has been overseas. Australia’s own Carla Zampatti redesigned a Ford specifically for the women’s market. The Carla Zampatti Ford Laser first appeared in 1985, and was followed two years later by more Lasers and Ford Meteors. Whether or not they won over the woman buyer remains open to question. But they had to have a better impact than the crowded cleavages of Ford’s later ute ads.

And Aussie surfwear brand Rip Curl – which our Gen-Y workmates swear is a fashion house (like … totally awesome) – has teamed up with Renault for a version of the little Clio.

Oddly not available here, but still aimed at the yoof market, the Clio Rip Curl has body graphics and “ocean inspired” paintwork in Ice Blue – a name that, however, suggests the inspiration may have come instead from amphetamines.

There’s also a range of special options for the Clio ‘Ripped’ (as we’ve rechristened it), including an easy-clean cargo area and rubber matting. Both of which will make it a snap to hose out the Schoolies Week regurgitated alcopops.

And thankfully, there’s also turn-by-turn satnav, because – ripped or not — that generation clearly has no idea where it’s going.

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