Fashionista Ferrari – How Ferrari Style Embodies the Brand
The brand exudes masculinity and strength but behind the sheet metal (or more aptly, lightweight composite materials) is a feminine Ferrari style – a woman’s whisper about style, panache and color.
By Tara Weingarten
A Feminine Mystique
Wander through the Ferrari factory in Maranello, Italy, and a few things are readily apparent: it’s incredibly clean, there are 150 live trees sprouting through the factory floor spreading cheer and oxygen, natural sunshine gleams through windows, and serious sports cars are being built.
It’s Italian all the way. Nothing is ever ‘just business’ with Italians. Productivity has to be implemented with style, with charm and with soul. And so, the people who make legendary Ferraris must be happy. A sort of Italian ‘whistle while you work’ philosophy.
Ferrari Chairman Luca di Montezemolo waxes poetic about the emotionality of Ferrari, both the brand and the car. The way Ferraris sound – that incredible baritone voice – and the way they accelerate and handle on twisty roads is nothing short of spectacular, a one-off experience.
Yes, Ferraris are fast, yes they grip and respond to a driver’s every command. But there’s something else, says di Montezemolo, that makes each Ferrari more than just a dynamic sports car. At a recent speech he gave to students at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, di Montezemolo several times equated Ferrari’s sexiness to a beautiful woman. Trite? Stereotypical Italian man? Cliche? Yes, perhaps all of these things. But there’s no denying that Ferrari is sexy – whether you compare it to a woman or not. It is, certainly, seductive, head-turningly attractive, unforgettable. The real deal.
But such metaphors may no longer work for Ferrari’s growing American clientele – a full 10 percent of whom are now women! I’d rather fantasize about a gorgeous Italian man, but that’s just me. And get this. In China, one of every three Ferraris is sold to a woman.
To some men, the notion of a woman driving a so-called man’s car is anathema. The term “chick car” is death in the sports car world. I find that seriously insulting, as a woman who drives and loves them. Let’s hope that as more women stream into Ferrari, Lamborghini and Porsche showrooms, those antiquated notions will go the way of the Hummer.
Why are so many women plunking down tens of thousands on exotic cars? Simple, women now make money. Lots of it. We are surgeons, politicians, business owners and we are the primary shopping decision makers of our families. Even Ferrari Chairman di Montezemolo acknowledges the growing influence of women. “More and more it’s couples, not just a man, who tours our factory,” he says. “More and more the wife or girlfriend helps decide which car to buy and what color will be. The husband no longer just buys without the green light from his wife.” Of course, we wonder if the woman’s husband or boyfriend accompanies HER when SHE goes in to buy a Ferrari.
When Kim Kardashian recently purchased a white Ferrari 458, we aren’t sure if she was alone. But we do know that she was in the driver’s seat when she left the dealership.
No Longer A Silent Movie Actress
Taking Ferrari into the 21st century, di Montezemolo told the Standford students that design and technological innovation lead his company. “Since Enzo Ferrari passed away, Ferrari was like a big actress who no longer received good scripts from the studio,” he says. “Ferrari was locked in a prison of the past. I had to think about the company differently, not just romanticize it but to make it romantic and relevant.”
To that end, di Montezemolo prioritized Ferrari’s purpose. “Number one is design,” he says. “Number two is vehicle and engine technology and number three is innovation in terms of colors, interiors.” And since the majority, if not the entirety of di Montezemolo’s executive team is comprised of men, he had to figure a way to soften them up a bit, to give them something that would spark ideas about style and design.
“Sometimes, I give my engineers fashion magazines,” says di Montezemolo. “They think I’m crazy but I want them to look at materials, colors and style. This is the world we live in, and Ferrari should be at the center of style and design.”
My Favorite Sweater
Say you love a particular cashmere pullover that makes you smile every time you wear it. Under Ferrari’s Personalization and Tailor-Made program, you can order your seats to be upholstered in Ballantyne Cashmere, known as the world’s finest-quality cashmere and sold at places like Barney’s and Harrod’s. “We created Tailor-Made especially for women,” says di Montezemolo. “You like your blue jeans, we can have the interior done in blue jean material. Or maybe you love the teak wood of a sail boat, we’ll put that wood in the trunk. Whatever you imagine, we can do.”
The bespoke attention to detail keeps Ferrari at the top of its game. And while Ferraris are increasingly parked in womens’ garages, there are no plans to create a ‘family’ vehicle like competitor Lamborghini, which recently announced plans to make an aggressively styled family SUV called Urus. “Ferrari has to remain a dream. A very hedonistic dream,” says di Montezemolo.
Ok, so when Ms. Kardashian one day gives birth to her little socialites, that fantastic Ferrari of hers will likely be kept company in the garage by Lambo’s family hauler. Viva Italia!