With an all-new E-Class recently let out of the bag, W* editor Henrietta Thompson secured an exclusive tour of Mercedes' Design Centre in Stuttgart, to see how the company is continuing to evolve its design language.
Now, more than ever, car companies want to be part of the cultural zeitgeist, and Mercedes is no different. As well as high profile sponsorship of Paris and New York Fashion Week, the company is also the automotive partner of Milano Moda Donna, Milano Moda Uomo and this year's new Milano Moda Design show.
Why? Although such partnerships get the logo onto the billboards, they're also an invaluable way of putting the car maker's creative team at the forefront of new design. A continuous process of scouting new trends and ideas ends up influencing what comes out of the design studio, with one industry feeding directly into the other. Partnering with such fashion-focused events simply helps speed up the process.
The company has also signed up Julia Stegner, the German supermodel, to be the company's new 'face'. At first glance, Stegner's role appears to be little more than window dressing, but her appointment goes deeper than that.
According to Gorden Wagener, Mercedes' Head of Design, the cross-pollination between fashion brands and engineering acumen demonstrates how luxury design is evolving in the twenty-first century. The deployment of Stegner's catwalk kudos is one way of saying that traditional Teutonic thoroughness must be spliced with the kind of fast-moving, trend divining aesthetic sensibility that defines the fashion industry.