Auto Moda - timeless style meets car design of a time

Car design, like fashion, has its devoted followers. Wrapped up in the envelope of carbon steel chassis and body are decades of design evolution that prompt devotees to spend often huge sums of money to get a piece of the magic. And also like fashion, cars, whether we like it or not, imply status. They are both commodities that we like to think place us at one level in society or another, while also amplifying how we wish the world to perceive us. That doesn't always have to mean that we are trying to impress others with our wealth or innate taste - it also works inversely. Jeff Bezos, for example, still drives a Honda Accord, describing it as a "perfectly good car." 

But what of the purists? The design heads? The car nuts? For this group, car design is not about status or the clamour for ownership. No, these people are inherently interested in the purity of the design, the idiosyncrasies from one marque to the next, the design principles that have stood the test of time. But whereas fashion's design trajectory has in many ways plateaued - hence why trends continue to be cyclical - car design seems altogether more linear, especially as we now enter the age of the electrical vehicle. If one looks back at the various decades of car design, one can witness a time capsule of sorts. The cars, in many respects, represent the collective hopes, dreams, and sometimes sad realities of those respective decades. 

NEWINGTON COAT KINGSLEY CORD NAVY

NEWINGTON COAT 
KINGSLEY CORD NAVY

NEWINGTON COAT KINGSLEY CORD BROWN

NEWINGTON COAT 
KINGSLEY CORD BROWN

 When we recently shot our Autumn/Winter campaign at the modernist home of Atomic Interiors founder Simon Siegel, we discovered that his penchant (read obsession) for midcentury design also extended to his car collection, consisting of three Citroën's, a vintage Porsche 911 and a vintage Fiat Cinquecento. It would be very hard to accuse Simon of peacocking given the eccentricity of his garage. Porsche 911 aside, this is not your typical car collector fodder. "My dream trinity of cars consists of Citroëns and Citroëns alone," said no aspirational car fan, ever.

As Simon explained to us, his love of the French automaker centred upon his feeling that there had never been a more 'designed' set of cars than these, with Citroën going to incredible lengths to make each feature as unique and considered as possible. As one of their advertisements from the 70s says, "Citroën was built by a small group of brilliant heretics..." Well, you can't much argue with that.

FUNNEL NECK BOMBER JACKET ORMOND CAMOUFLAGE KHAKI

FUNNEL NECK BOMBER JACKET 
ORMOND CAMOUFLAGE KHAKI

BUFFALO JACKET KINGSLEY CORD BROWN

BUFFALO JACKET 
KINGSLEY CORD BROWN

BUFFALO JACKET KINGSLEY CORD NAVY

BUFFALO JACKET 
KINGSLEY CORD NAVY

Simon's passion for a very specific design coda got us thinking about our own collections, and more specifically the fine details that we've come to take for granted over the years, but which make our clothes unique. Oli's own obsession about fabric is the starting point of a process that applies classic tailoring principles to modern silhouettes. Where the Citroëns of the 70s looked to create new design signatures with their rear fender skirts, aircraft-grade aluminium bonnet and ridiculously low drag coefficient, Oli's collections look to improve on the classics, adding a contemporary twist to design details, and always looking for innovative fabrications that follow the brand's sustainability principles.

Similarly, the Porsche 911 is as iconic as car design gets and is a true representation of a constant design evolution that has never forgotten its past. From the very first 911 that rolled off the production line in Stuttgart in 1964 to the factory-fresh Type 992 of today, the fundamental aesthetic has remained the same. Evidently, great design never ages, and as with cars goes men's style. The Newington coat, a great big winter blanket of a garment cut in lined jumbo wale Italian corduroy is a good case in point. Oli referenced a coat he saw in a flea market on a bitterly cold winter's day in New York in the late 90s. Cut in a traditional double-breasted silhouette, it needs no embellishments, no bells or whistles. The Newington is simply timeless and a great investment piece. 

Speaking of investments, you'd do well to turn your eye to the classic car market. According to the luxury investment index set by Knight Frank, classic car values have increased by 469% in the past 10 years. Over the same period, luxury London homes and the FTSE 100 have risen by 135% and 51%, respectively. Similarly, the Historic Automobile Group International (HAGI), an independent investment research organisation, reported that classic cars have been one of the best performing investments over the past decade, with the value of exceptional historic cars climbing 12% in just the last year alone. Compared to the beginning of 2009, the price of such cars has risen by up to 163%.

Cars and coats by Oliver Spencer

HUNSTON GILET FLEECE BROWN

HUNSTON GILET 
FLEECE BROWN

HUNSTON GILET 
FLEECE NAVY

ZIP THROUGH CARDIGAN FOYLE MIDNIGHT MULTI

ZIP THROUGH CARDIGAN 
FOYLE MIDNIGHT MULTI

The nature of clothing doesn't permit returns like that, but the one value that is intrinsic in good garments is time. A good coat will last a lifetime if cared for properly. Trends will live and die, but classic silhouettes will always persist, and if they have been constructed by expert hands using high quality fabrics, then that's one less coat you'll ever have to replace.

  

 Click here to shop our Autumn/Winter collection of outerwear at Oliver Spencer.

 

 

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