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
Véronique 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 Hélène 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," Hélène 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."

Read the original article in French (subscription may be required)

Photo - Nissan

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Preparing a COVID-19 vaccine booster in Huzhou, China.

Hannah Steinkopf-Frank, Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

👋 Ciao!*

Welcome to Wednesday, where Brazil's senate backs "crimes against humanity" charges against Jair Bolsonaro, the UN has a grim new climate report and Dune gets a sequel. Meanwhile, German daily Die Welt explores "Xi Jinping Thought," which is now being made part of Chinese schools' curriculum.



• Senators back Bolsonaro criminal charges: A Brazilian Senate panel has backed a report that supports charging President Jair Bolsonaro with crimes against humanity, for his alleged responsibility in the country's 600,000-plus COVID-19 deaths.

• Gas crisis in Moldova following Russian retaliation: Moldova, one of Europe's poorest countries, has for the first time challenged Russia's Gazprom following a price increase and failed contract negotiations, purchasing instead from Poland. In response, Russia has threatened to halt sales to the Eastern European country, which has previously acquired all of its gas from Gazprom.

• New UN climate report finds planned emission cuts fall short: The Emissions Gap Report 2021 concludes that country pledges to reduce greenhouse gas emissions aren't large enough to keep the global temperature rise below 1.5 °C degrees this century. The UN Environment Program predicts a 2.7 °C increase, with significant environmental impacts, but there is still hope that longer term net-zero goals will curtail some temperature rise.

• COVID update: As part of its long-awaited reopening, Australia will officially allow its citizens to travel abroad without a government waiver for the first time in more than 18 months. Bulgaria, meanwhile, hits record daily high COVID-19 cases as the Eastern European's hotel and restaurant association is planning protests over the implementation of the vaccination "green pass." In the U.S., a panel of government medical advisors backed the use of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for five to 11-year-olds.

• U.S. appeals decision to block Julian Assange extradition: The United States said it was "extremely disappointed" in a UK judge's ruling that Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, would be a suicide risk of he traveled across the Atlantic. In the U.S., he faces 18 charges related to the 2010 release of 500,000 secret files related to U.S. military activity.

• Deposed Sudan prime minister released: Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok has been released from custody, though remains under heavy guard after Sudan's military coup. Protests against the coup have continued in the capital Khartoum, as Hamdok has called for the release of other detained governmental officials.

Dune Part 2 confirmed: The world will get to see Timothée Chalamet ride a sandworm: The second installment of the sci-fi epic and global box office hit has officially been greenlit, set to hit the screens in 2023.


Front page of the National Post's October 27 front page

Canadian daily National Post reports on the nomination of Steven Guilbeault, a former Greenpeace activist, as the country's new Environment minister. He had been arrested in 2001 for scaling Toronto's CN Tower to unfurl a banner for Greenpeace, which he left in 2008.


Chinese students now required to learn to think like Xi Jinping

"Xi Jinping Thought" ideas on socialism have been spreading across the country since 2017. But now, Beijing is going one step further by making them part of the curriculum, from the elementary level all the way up to university, reports Maximilian Kalkhof in German daily Die Welt.

🇨🇳 It's important to strengthen the "determination to listen to and follow the party." Also, teaching materials should "cultivate patriotic feelings." So say the new guidelines issued by the Chinese Ministry of Education. The goal is to help Chinese students develop more "Marxist beliefs," and for that, the government wants its national curriculum to include "Xi Jinping Thought," the ideas, namely, of China's current leader. Behind this word jam is a plan to consolidate the power of the nation, the party and Xi himself.

📚 Starting in September, the country's 300 million students have had to study the doctrine, from elementary school into university. And in some cities, even that doesn't seem to be enough. Shanghai announced that its students from third to fifth grade would only take final exams in mathematics and Chinese, de facto deleting English as an examination subject. Beijing, in the meantime, announced that it would ban the use of unauthorized foreign textbooks in elementary and middle schools.

⚠️ But how does a country that enchants its youth with socialist ideology and personality cults rise to become a world power? Isn't giving up English as a global language the quickest way into isolation? The educational reform comes at a time when Beijing is brutally disciplining many areas of public life, from tech giants to the entertainment industry. It has made it difficult for Chinese technology companies to go public abroad, and some media have reported that a blanket ban on IPOs in the United States is on the cards in the next few years.

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"I'm a footballer and I'm gay."

— Australian soccer player Josh Cavallo said in a video accompanying a tweet in which he revealed his homosexuality, becoming the first top-flight male professional player in the world to do so. The 21-year-old said he was tired of living "this double life" and hoped his decision to come out would help other "players living in silence."


Why this Sudan coup d'état is different

Three days since the military coup was set in motion in Sudan, the situation on the ground continues to be fluid. Reuters reports this morning that workers at the state petroleum company Sudapet are joining a nationwide civil disobedience movement called by trade unions in response to the generals' overthrow of the government. Doctors have also announced a strike.

Generals in suits At the same time, the military appears firmly in control, with deposed Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok allowed to return home today after being held by the coup leaders. How did we get here? That's the question that David E. Kiwuwa, a professor of international relations at the University of Nottingham, takes on in The Conversation:

"Since the revolution that deposed Omar el-Bashir in 2019, the military have fancied themselves as generals in suits. They have continued to wield enough power to almost run a parallel government in tension with the prime minister. This was evident when the military continued to have the say on security and foreign affairs.

Economy as alibi For their part, civilian officials concentrated on rejuvenating the economy and mobilizing international support for the transitional council. This didn't stop the military from accusing the civilian leadership of failing to resuscitate the country's ailing economy.

True, the economy has continued to struggle from high inflation, low industrial output and dwindling foreign direct investment. As in all economies, conditions have been exacerbated by the effects of COVID-19. Sudan's weakened economy is, however, not sufficient reason for the military intervention. Clearly this is merely an excuse."

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471 million euros

Rome's Casino di Villa Boncompagni Ludovisi, better known as Villa Aurora, will be put up for auction in January for 471 million euros ($547 million). The over-the-top price tag is thanks to the villa having the only known ceiling painting by Renaissance master Caravaggio.

✍️ Newsletter by Hannah Steinkopf-Frank, Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

Who wants to start the bidding on the Caravaggio villa? Otherwise, let us know what the news looks like from your corner of the world!!

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