New from Detroit: A designer Chrysler

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    An early collaboration between auto and design: The Levi's Gremlin had denim-covered bucket seats. But, contrary to rumor, no copper rivets that would burn your skin when you left the car in the sun.

    - mclellansautomotive.com

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    An ad for the Levi's edition of AMC's Gremlin. The Gremlin was sold as an affordable subcompact car, fitting with Levi's image for working-class clothies.

    - Ginormous

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    The 300C special edition John Varvatos Chrysler is the latest car to merge fashion and design with automobiles.

    - Edmunds.com

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    Varvatos includes his own custom logo on the built-to-order Chrysler 300C, to be offered in this year's Neiman Marcus Christmas Book.

    - http://www.freshnessmag.com/2012/09/12/2013-chrysler-300c-john-varvatos-limited-edition/

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    The 1974 and 1975 AMC Matador featured colors, upholstery and copper accents by Oleg Cassini, a favorite designer of Jackie Onassis.

    - http://psautomobilist.blogspot.com/2010/07/couture-cars-designer-wheels-and.html

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    The interior of the Oleg Cassini matador featured upholstery buttons with the designer's logo.

    - http://www.carmk.net/thread-63937-1-1.html

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    Bill Blass worked with Ford on the Lincoln Mark throughout the 1970s and 80s. This is ad for the 1977 Lincoln Continental Bill Blass Mark V Designer Editions.

    - Alden Jewell / Creative Commons

The 300C special edition John Varvatos Chrysler is the latest car to merge fashion and design with automobiles.

CORRECTION: The original version of this story incorrectly described Neiman Marcus’s role in selling a John Varvatos special-edition Chrysler 300C. Chrysler is advertising the car in the department store’s magazine, The Book. Neiman Marcus is not selling the car. The text has been revised.

Designers around the world have been lending their names to cars a lot more lately.  Chrysler is the latest, with designer touches by John Varvatos on a special edition Chrysler 300c.

It’s a tradition that really started in America more than four decades ago. In the 70s lots of fashion brands waved their magic style wands over cars.  Matt Hardigree with Jalopnik.com has a few faves, like the AMC Matador from Jackie O's favorite designer, Oleg Cassini. There's also the Bill Blass Lincoln, complete with a Cartier clock in the dashboard.

At the height of this craze, he says, "They even had a Levi's edition Gremlin - all the seats were denim."

Morningstar analyst Paul Swinand says Chrysler and John Varvatos, both from Detroit, make perfect sense for collaboration. But he says the question is how to do it in a way that both brands will actually be elevated. Varvatos is known for taking street style to the runway. The hulking Chrysler 300 has major street cred.

Varvatos' take on the 300 is a study in black, says Hardigree at Jalopnik.com. It has blacked out tail-lights. Even the chrome Chrysler logo is black. "Which fits sort of its mafioso image," he says.

Varvatos borrowed the look from the street, Hardigree says. A car that's bumper-to-bumper black isn't known as pimped out. It's murdered out.


About the author

Eve Troeh is News Director at WWNO-FM in New Orleans, La., helping build the first public radio news department in the station’s 40-year history. She reported for the Marketplace Sustainability Desk from 2010 to 2013.

The 300C special edition John Varvatos Chrysler is the latest car to merge fashion and design with automobiles.

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The Neiman Marcus Christmas Book car will be unveiled in Dallas on October 9th. This is not it, but we think you will be pleased by the car we have chosen.

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