Ford's Big Fashion Week Bash

February 19, 2002, 12:00 AM EST

Ford Thunderbird Fashion Week partyHammerstein BallroomWednesday, 02.13.02, 7:30 PM to 10:30 PM
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Ford made fashionable bedfellows with Conde Nast and Fairchild Publications for a stylish Fashion Week fete to promote the automaker's updated Thunderbird model. Produced by Conde Nast and Paul Wilmot Communications, the event transformed the Hammerstein Ballroom into a sleek car showroom where the hosts showed off the work of nine fashion designers brought together to create items based on the iconic car. (In exchange for glamming up the old-school company's image, Ford made a donation to New York Fashion Cares and the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, adding the currently de rigueur benefit.phpect to the event.)

Event designer Frederick Anderson of Anderson Hannant covered the floor with white carpet and scattered low block seating and underlit cocktail tables made of white Lucite throughout the room. And Bernhard-Link created a gorgeous lighting design that transformed the room's atmosphere with shifts from sexy reds and oranges to cool pinks, greens and blues that were projected on long, sheer white curtains hung from a rectangular brushed steel frame. A rectangular box made of white Lucite panels backlit by colored lights--kind of like the Saturday Night Fever dance floor--stood in front of a large video screen that displayed runway images interspersed with the Thunderbird logo. During a short presentation halfway through the event, the box was lifted away to reveal a red Thunderbird painted with a design by Diane von Furstenberg.

Two more T-birds were displayed on elevated platforms near the shiny chrome bars that had small round inset windows--just like the cars' distinct round windows--that showed video images of flames and other graphics.

Originally scheduled for September 13, 2001, during last fall's Fashion Week, the event was postponed after the September 11 attacks. Planners waited until the glitzy trade event's next go-round to proceed with their pricey, stylish plans (one industry source told us the event's decor cost more than $200,000).

The designers' creations were set out in the front of the ballroom along with two more cars. Frocks from John Bartlett, Carolina Herrera, Marc Jacobs, Gene Meyer and William Reid adorned mannequins, and sunglasses from Oliver Peoples and bags by Jack Spade and Lambertson Truex were displayed in Plexiglas boxes.

Anderson also set out white flower arrangements on glass tables, and printed statements about the nonprofit on the walls. More signage declared that Ford's new T-bird was “not retro"--it's certainly not cashing in on a classic a la Chrysler's successful retro PT Cruisers--but a car that's “built upon Thunderbird's rich heritage...with modern flair.” But the statement might have been lost on a crowd who probably travels more by a different Ford brand, the Lincoln Town Car.

--Suzanne Ito

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