DUBAI: Cars and clothing have a long, intertwined history. While it may seem like the two are drastically different, fashion has a long-standing relationship with the auto industry, with designers continually looking to the road when creating their collections and runway looks.
Coco Chanel’s little black dress from 1926 was inspired by Henry Ford’s model T; in the 1970s, car customizer Kenny “Von Dutch” Howard helped set the trend for trucker hats; Thierry Mugler presented a Cadillac-inspired corset in the 1980s, and more recently Demna Gvasalia transformed floor mats and mirrors into skirts and clutch bags for Balenciaga’s fall 2017 ready-to-wear collection.
Also in 2017, American designer and avid car collector Ralph Lauren presented his fall offer at his Bedford Hills garage for a show inspired by luxury sports cars. For the same season this year, the Casablanca designer Charaf Tajer was inspired by Formula 1 for his collection, aptly titled âGrand Prixâ.
Then there are the countless automotive collaborations: the Bugatti Chiron by HermÃ¨s, the Fiat 500 monogram by Gucci and a Lamborghini Murcielago customized by Versace. Just last week, Mercedes-Benz brought in multi-stroke Virgil Abloh to redesign the Mercedes Maybach.
Today, the latest brand to draw inspiration from the automotive industry is the Istanbul brand Les Benjamins, run by German Bunyamin Aydin alongside his Saudi wife Lamia, who is responsible for the women’s part of the collections of the streetwear brand.
Entitled “Forgotten Pacenotes”, the brand’s new offering for fall 2021 celebrates Turkish rally icons of the 1970s and 1980s, such as RenÃ§ KoÃ§ibey, Serdar Bostanci and Ali Sipahi, among others.
The collection, which is divided into two chapters ârally styleâ and âcrash & repairâ, is punctuated with pieces that one would find on the Grand Prix or Daytona 500 pits. There are elegant zipped leather jackets, prints oil spill, jackets and sweatpants, balaclavas, vegan leather vests and zippers emblazoned with Les Benjamins patches, evoking bright sponsor logos on heavily modified race cars.
When it comes to accessories, there are running gloves, logo dad caps, and stylish handbags with magnetic clasps that open and close with the ease of a start button.
When it comes to women’s clothing, Lamia gave a sartorial nod to French driver MichÃ¨le Mouton, who became the first and only woman to win a world rally championship event in 1981.
âThe legacy of racing and the stories that have inspired me, merging with my creative vision, bring together a contemporary take on rally racing,â Aydin told Arab News.
The designer has always had a fascination with cars. âI love cars,â he said, adding that he is mainly interested in the design aspect and the style of dress. âI would love to design a car one day and maybe a racing team,â he added.
The new offering is available online and will also be featured in the upcoming Les Benjamins flagship store in Dubai, which will mark the predominantly gender-neutral streetwear brand’s first store in the Gulf and the wider Middle East, with the exception of Turkey.
The brand, which has found fans in Kim Kardashian West, Justin Bieber and Saweetie, already has two stores in Istanbul and more than 150 dealers.
âThe community we have here in Dubai has always welcomed me and Les Benjamins,â shared Aydin. “I feel at home here.”