On August 5th, 1888 Bertha Benz commandeered a Benz Patent-Motorwagon Model III, the third iteration of the new three-wheeled automobile, which happened to be the first ever vehicle specifically designed to be powered by an internal combustion engine. She did so without the knowledge of her husband, Karl Benz, who had created and patented the design, and without the permission of local authorities, a radical move for a woman during her era. Indeed, one might argue that she didn’t need permission, as it was in fact her dowry that financed his entire operation (not to mention his failed iron construction company that had come before). Understanding that the fledgling company needed publicity, Bertha took her sons Eugen and Richard on a ride from their home in Mannheim through Heidelberg and Wiesloch to her hometown Pforzheim. It was a 106 km (66 mi) journey--the first long-distance automobile trip. Not only did her ride provide much needed marketing for the company, then known as Benz & Cie, and showcase the feasibility of the invention’s capabilities; it served as encouragement to her spouse/partner that their investment had incredible potential once it could be made available to the general public. Along the way, she also exhibited her skill as a mechanic and technician as she was forced to solve various problems the vehicle encountered during the trip: clearing a blocked fuel-line with her hair pin, insulating an exposed wire with a garter, and employing a cobbler to reinforce the worn wooden brakes with leather, thus creating the first ever brake-pads. Not bad for someone who was deemed ineligible to hold any rights as an investor by German law as a married woman--despite the fact that she was the principal investor.
And so began the love story between man and machine. Since its creation, there has been an undeniable magic in automobiles and our relationship to them. Few other inanimate objects have inspired so much passion, nostalgia, and death-defying addiction.
“My Other Car Is A Singer” is inspired by the same spirit, manifest in the inexplicable seduction of contoured bodywork or the insatiable desire for speed. The SS20 collection draws deeply from automotive design and the culture that surrounds it. Rather than simply reinterpreting garments that someone might typically wear in a garage or racetrack, our approach to creating styles for the season was driven by automotive design concept, like the process of how an engine is put together or the paneling of composite materials on a fender. Construction, colors, fabric & trim choices, etc. were all influenced by this mindset.
Each season is usually embodied by a character, but this time we centered on two. Inspired by a fascinating encounter during a production trip in Japan, “My Other Car Is A Singer” focuses on the idea of friendship & duality, revolving around the relationship between two childhood friends, one the heir of a sewing factory and the other the son of a garage owner. SS20 looks at how separate worlds can be drawn together by common & different interests, like the way each friend’s expertise influences the other’s work, expressed in a collision between automotive and fashion design.