The Makeover
5 Fashion-Inspired Special Edition Cars
text | Ztephen Lee
edit | Henry Lau, Peter Kelly

When thinking about fashion and automobiles, the common point between these two would probably be a reflection of style, performance, comfort, innovation, and the sense of superior association. For instance, the car that you drive or the clothing that you are wearing reflects your taste to a certain extent. When buying a car, it is equally important to consider its functionalities as well as its appearance; the same approach applies when buying clothes; it does not only serve as protection from the elements, we also want it to improve our appearance so as to enhance our social status. This explains why automakers are actively and constantly working with fashion designers or labels to introduce fashion-inspired special edition cars, in order to offer a unique sense of beauty and style.

Here are some of the most exciting combinations over the decades.

Lincoln Continental Mark V “Designer Editions”


When we first thought of looking back some of the greatest fashion and car collaborations throughout the years, we realised that the first such collaboration can be traced back to the 1970s. When Lincoln released its luxury coupe the Continental Mark V in 1977, the company invited four of the world’s leading fashion designers to create the Designer Edition models of the Mark V. The designers included Hubert de Givenchy, Bill Blass, Emilio Pucci and Cartier. Each of these special-limited models features designer-specified colors for the exterior paint, vinyl roof, bodyside moldings and striping as well as interior upholstery trim selection. To make the Designer Edition Continental Mark V more prestigious, a designer’s logo was embossed on the trunk lid, along with the designer’s signature laminated between the opera window glass.

Paul Smith × Mini Cooper


Speaking of fashion and car collaborations, British car manufacturer MINI should not be missed on the list. Aside from collaborating with many fashion designers for Life Ball – an annual charity event organised by the non-profit organisation AIDS LIFE in Europe supporting people with AIDS/HIV – one of its most iconic collaborations must be the Rover Mini designed in conjunction with British designer Paul Smith in 1997. The one-off creation was painted with 86 stripes in 24 colors and was first presented at the 1997 Tokyo Motor Show.

After its grand unveiling, Paul Smith incorporated the design as a graphic print called “Mini Graphic Edge” into his accessories collection.

Lamborghini Murciélago LP640 Roadster Versace


Unveiled at the 2006 Paris Motor Show, the Lamborghini Murciélago LP 640 Roadster Versace is one of the rarest limited edition Lamborghinis ever built. The Murciélago LP 640 used a 6.5L V12 engine that produces 640 hp and can accelerate from 0-100km/h in just 3.5 seconds, before topping out at 322km/h. Available in either white or black, this special-edition LP640 features a custom white paint job adorned with the Versace key motif on the doors. The custom interior is finished in two-tone Versace leather and completed with a Gianni Versace logo plaque. In 2007, one of these extremely rare Lamborghinis was auctioned for $500,000, with the proceeds going to the Elton John AIDS Foundation.

Thom Browne × Gilt × Infiniti


While other collaborations only involved fashion brands and car companies, online fashion retailer Gilt once partnered with Infiniti to create two special editions of the Q50 sedan with American fashion designers Thom Browne and Zac Posen. The Thom Browne Infiniti Q50 features a mirror-like chrome finish that resembles Thom Browne’s iconic Aviator sunglasses design. The interior sports Thom Browne’s trademark red, white and navy stripe adorning the seats.

Gucci × Fiat


In 2011, Fiat teamed up with Gucci for a limited edition run of the Fiat 500 and 500c, bringing together two of Italy’s most respected brands with their premium craftsmanship and style. This limited-edition Fiat 500 was designed by Centro Stile and Gucci’s ex-creative-director Frida Giannini. A signature Gucci motif consists of green, red, green stripes runs the entire bodyside perimeter on the Fiat 500 by Gucci, or across the length of the power-retractable cloth top on the Fiat 500c by Gucci model. Inside, the velvety varnish on the instrument panel and seats wrapped in Poltrona Frau leather with signature “Guccissima” print. The Gucci Edition models were very well-received, especially by female drivers, and has become one of the impressive crossover projects between fashion and automotive industry.