By Alesandra Dubin Posted November 16, 2010, 1:20 PM EST
LOS ANGELES Automaker Lotus made an imprint on popular culture with a cameo in Pretty Woman. But that was 20 years ago, and the brand is looking to return to the fore with the launch of five new models. To fete the U.S. debut of the Esprit, Elan, Elite, Elise, and Eterne, Lotus hosted a launch event at a private residence in Bel Air on Friday—a week ahead of the Los Angeles Auto Show. Lotus Cars Limited head of global marketing operations Tommaso Volpe oversaw the event, tapping Harrison & Shriftman for the production and design.
The team transformed the sprawling home into a gallery showing a Lotus retrospective, with memorabilia like old racing helmets and model cars displayed throughout. Seven oversize prints from French photographer Gérard Rancinan meant to show the evolution of the brand were on display. And out in the backyard, which served as the main party space, Lotus displayed the five new models on platforms punctuated with a truss toned with color-changing lighting. (Two additional cars, the dramatic T125 and classic Lotus Esprit, served as an arrivals backdrop at the entry.) A huge outdoor LED screen showcased the new cars before a team removed their covers around 8:30 p.m.
During the event, Lotus C.E.O. Dany Bahar presented a surprise gift to the Baldwin Foundation in the form of a Lotus Evora. The automaker works with family friends the Baldwin brothers—Alec, Daniel, Billy, and Stephen—who were in attendance (as was Demi Moore) to support the Carol M. Baldwin Breast Cancer Research Fund, part of the Baldwin Foundation. The combination of cars, celebrities, and the hilltop home gave the event a quintessentially L.A. vibe.
Contributing to the event's sense of hospitality was the end-of-night valet experience, known to be so critical in guests' perception of an event in town. After scooping up their Lotus-product-filled gift bags, guests paused at a coffee, tea, and hot chocolate station in front of the valet. They gave their tickets to the attendants prior to getting in the vans that would take them back to their vehicles; and when the vans stopped and guests got out, those vehicles were already waiting. A bag of sweet popcorn known as Moose Munch from Harry & David (also a client of Harrison & Shriftman) waited upon the passenger's seat for a late-night snack—if they hadn't filled up on passed hors d'oeuvres like sliders, sushi, and pizza from Wolfgang Puck at the party.