Next year Ford will celebrate its iconic Ford Mustang’s 50th years with a 2015 50 Year Limited Edition. The Ford Mustang brand and design are still recognizable and stands for values similars to those of its birth year. However when a big name of the industry calls on fashion designers to support its effort to revive the spirit of one of the most legendary car design and brand it is more than challenging even scarry somehow for independant or small labels to give their contribution. They might loose some of their own aura or just on the opposite take in and assume that they can benefit the massive experience of working along experts. And in addition they can enhance their own territory. Here we give you a crossed behind the scenes interview of designer Anna Sui and of the brothers whom cofounded Rogan. Ford commissionned them as part of a group of fashion names to unleash their creativity giving their aesthetic vision of the Ford Mustang through a series of t-shirts that will be on sale through an exclusive international e-retail platform by next month. I asked them to tell us a bit more about their relation with the Mustang legacy and car culture more generally speaking.
Business Madame : Can you tell us a bit more about you, where you grew up, your education and why you became a designer ?
Anna Sui : I was born in Michigan and knew that I wanted to be a fashion designer since the age of four. When I was little, I read an article about two girls that went to Parson’s School of Design in New York. When they graduated, Elizabeth Taylor opened up a boutique for them, so I thought, “Okay, I have to go to Parsons.” My babysitter had Seventeen Magazine at our house and in the back was an ad to enroll to Parsons. This is when I decided to do everything in my power to make sure I was eligible to go to Parson’s, and I did. Many years later I went back and read that article. What I didn’t understand as a child, the first time I read it, was that one of the girls had connections. I’m so glad I didn’t know that then, because I don’t think I would have pursued this dream as whole-heartedly.
Rogan Mackinlay-Hahn : I grew up in the American Midwest and my father was an eccentric artist, so I grew up making things. Later on my need to create transferred into clothing design.
BM : How have cars and the automotive industry (in general) inspire you as a child, a teenager and now as a designer ?
AS : When I grew up in Detroit in the 1960s, it was truly in its heyday! Its own distinctive home-grown music scene was at its height (with important bands passing through all the time). The car industry was really booming. That’s the exact moment when the original Mustang rolled off the production line! It was a very exciting time! I wanted to incorporate my memories from this legendary period into the project. I wanted to celebrate Detroit when it was at its best!
RMH : Growing up in the American Midwest cars were an important influence on my aesthetic. The language of car design is a vernacular for one’s lifestyle.
“I grew up in Detroit in the 1960s, it was truly in its heyday! … the original Mustang rolled off the production line! It was a very exciting time! ” Anna Sui (AS), Designer.
BM : A lot of brands from mainstream names down to even very young boutique brands use Mustang in their imagery or their storytelling. What do you think is the legacy of the Ford Mustang ? For the design industry and more commonly, to creativity?
AS : Mustang embodies the iconic American Spirit; it has adapted over the last 50 years to cultural changes, but has always remained true to its core values of freedom and passion, much like my own work.
BM : What do you want to convey in your design and collaborating with Ford for this Mustang Collection ?
AS : I was looking at classic rock album covers, vintage Mustang memorabilia, Detroit’s famous Art Deco movie houses, Kustom Car Kulture, Pop Art graphics, Psychedelia, Motown, Grande Ballroom rock rosters, Peter Max, Marvin Gaye, Iggy Pop, Alice Cooper, Jack White, The Supremes, MC5, The White Stripes, Only Lovers Left Alive … My goal was to make my three Mustang t-shirts look like you had just bought them at a rock concert!
Scott Mackinlay-Hahn : « Designed for living, engineered to last » is a Ford slogan that connects with our mission. Our graphics will be printed on Loomstate tees, which we know will last.
BM : Can your name remains standing next to such a mighty brand as Mustang ? What convinced you to take the risk ? How will you benefit ?
AS : In my own work, I’m constantly referring to nostalgic, romantic, and rock influences…often including a nod to my Midwestern roots. Just like Ford Mustang, there’s an underlying spirit of pop culture Americana behind everything I do.
SMH : That’s a good question. We will benefit by reaching an audience that cares about quality design. It has been interesting for us to see how a giant company operates and how they connect with communities.
“We will benefit by reaching an audience that cares about quality design.” Scott Mackinlay-Hahn (SMH), Designer, cofounder Rogan NYC.
BM : Do you drive ? If yes, when/where/what ? And for what purpose (work, surfing, holidays …)
AS : I don’t drive in New York but I have always said if I did have a car it would be a Mustang !
RMH : Yes, I rely on a different method for each destination – the commonality is that they are all painted matte black. To get to the office I hop on my bike, and skateboard for quick trips like picking up groceries down the road. During Montauk weekends, I drive a 60’s era low-rider (with surfboard in tow) to get to the beach, or my family piles into our Volvo station wagon on a weekend out of town.