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How Carmakers Are Using High Fashion To Seduce Women Customers

Automakers increasingly focused on female clients have teamed up with top designers to attend to female tastes and needs behind the wheel. Meanwhile, the ultimate marketing "Holy Grail" in the auto business is the car that seduces both m

Lolita Lempicka's version of the Nissan Micra
Lolita Lempicka's version of the Nissan Micra
VĂ©ronique Lorelle

Cars this summer were rolling through towns and cities in a flash of lime green, bright blue and sunflower yellow. Are we back to the color frenzy of the 1970's, or is it the result of a wise marketing strategy to target driving fashionistas?

Blackcurrant-colored exterior with purple glints, nude quilted leather that matches this season's make-up, all with an almost boudoir feel to it: This is the Nissan Micra signed by the Parisian stylist Lolita Lempicka, and it is the most accomplished current example of the feminization of an automobile. But it is not the only one.

The IKKS Polo, the dusty pink Miss Sixty Twingo or the Fiat 500 reinterpreted by Gucci art director Frida Giannini, are some of the latest models born from the collaboration between the car industry and the world of fashion. There is even the Lancia Ypsilon Elle, dressed in a glamorous pink, created with the famous women's magazine.

"The car industry is a century old and car manufacturers realized 10 years ago that women were actually driving and picking their own cars', jokes HĂ©lĂšne Fievet, product manager of the Micra for Nissan. "In France, half of the drivers are women. They have different expectations than men. They give much more importance to the design, the color, the size, the practicality and the price than to the motor type" she says.

For the Lolita Lempicka Micra, an exclusive French model created for fashion addicts, the French-Japanese automaker has multiplied the car's "chick magnets." In addition to a mirror on the sun visor above the wheel, a handbag holder allows any lady to keep her bag close by, on the passenger seat, without scattering its content at the first sudden stop. Even smarter is the parallel parking aid system that alerts you if the potential parking space you're passing is big enough. A navigation system allows you to avoid traffic jams and tells you, once you've reached your destination, the closest parking lot.

Automobile as accessory

"It is a kind of coach for the modern-day princess, for women who are looking for a car they can relate to like an accessory," HĂ©lĂšne Fievet says. "Still, some women also prefer crossovers (a car between a SUV and a sedan), such as the Nissan Juke, to project a different image of themselves." In other words, gendered cars are only created as limited editions. The Holy Grail lies somewhere else, in a car conceived to attract both men and women.

Citroën makes sure women are always involved in the decisions when a new model is created. "Forty percent of our French clients are women who come by themselves," explains Olivier Henry, in charge of the brand's future models design. "But even within the remaining 60%, the woman still intervenes in the choice of the family car, hence our search for a sort of car equality."

And that's how the DS 3 was born; a three-door compact car with numerous customization options: 38 color combinations available between the roof and the body of the car, without mentioning the stickers, from flowers to golden arabesques. Just a year after it was launched, the two-tone model counts for 90% of the sales -- a sign that color does not frighten male drivers anymore.

Still, women and men do not embrace car experience the same way. "Men are quite fetishist; the engine has special powers, measurable by its capacity and technology, and it is still a reflection of your social status," says Henry. "For women, a car means freedom, a place where they can escape from their daily responsibilities, but which needs to protect the environment and the people seating inside."

Still, the old notion of the (male) car as "chick magnet" is not dead, just evolving. Even though women are more drawn to versatile city cars, they also like more high-powered vehicles. Last month, the French magazine AutoPlus published a survey revealing women's favorite cars among a list of 60 "testosteroned" models. The first pick is one with character: the BMW Z4, followed by James Bond's Aston Martin DBS, the Ferrari California and the Maserati Gran Turismo. The magazine advises its male readers: "And if having an elegant coupé or an Italian sports car is not enough to get you a date
(try letting) a lady drive it."

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Photo - Nissan

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The Colonial Spirit And "Soft Racism" Of White Savior Syndrome

Tracing back to Christian colonialism, which was supposed to somehow "civilize" and save the souls of native people, White Savior Syndrome lives on in modern times: from Mother Teresa to Princess Diana and the current First Lady of Colombia, VerĂłnica Alcocer.

photo of a child patient holding hand of an adult

Good intentions are part of the formula

Ton Koene / Vwpics/ZUMA
Sher Herrera


CARTAGENA — The White Savior Syndrome is a social practice that exploits or economically, politically, symbolically takes advantage of individuals or communities they've racialized, perceiving them as in need of being saved and thus forever indebted and grateful to the white savior.

Although this racist phenomenon has gained more visibility and sparked public debate with the rise of social media, it is actually as old as European colonization itself. It's important to remember that one of Europe's main justifications for subjugating, pillaging and enslaving African and American territories was to bring "civilization and save their souls" through "missions."

Even today, many white supremacists hold onto these ideas. In other words, they believe that we still owe them something.

This white savior phenomenon is a legacy of Christian colonialism, and among its notable figures, we can highlight Saint Peter Claver, known as "the slave of the slaves," Bartolomé de Las Casas, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Princess Diana herself, and even the First Lady of Colombia, Verónica Alcocer.

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