Hot wheels: Craig McDean celebrates fast cars and high fashion

Hot wheels: Craig McDean celebrates fast cars and high fashion

Desire, seduction, a feat of human engineering: fashion has a well-oiled relationship with fast cars. Twenty years since he released I Love Fast Cars, a tome capturing the raw power of the American muscle cars, fashion photographer Craig McDean has released a new book, Manual, published by Rizzoli. It documents McDean’s long lived passion for speed behind the wheel, including many previously unseen works from his personal archive, alongside his well-known fashion images, also revered for their energy, movement and momentum. Spliced together, Amber Valetta dressed in Yohji Yamamoto (A/W 2000) leans against a scarlet Camaro Sky, while naked Raquel Zimmerman (S/S 2017) languidly stretches along the base of a royal blue muscle car.

‘I grew up around cars, driving a Ford Cortina with my dad and watching films like Vanishing Point. Cars became an adventure and that stayed with me,’ says McDean, who worked as a mechanic for a year before picking up a camera. ‘As objects to photograph and desire, cars are the same as fashion and clothes to me,’ says McDean. ‘When I first moved to America I bought muscle cars, I lived my fantasy. Now I have Italian cars, I like looking at the lines of them and knowing they are hand built. And they don’t fall apart and go round corners a lot better!’

Photography from inside Craig McDean Manual book

Photography: Craig McDean

McDean has released the book with the support of with his friend Ben Gorham of Byredo, who designed 400 limited-edition yellow fabric box covers stamped with metal license plate tags, and a line of motoring-inspired merchandise that will be available to buy alongside the limited-edition book in global Byredo stores. Checking off the tropes of car culture merchandise – mechanics jacket, lighters, beer coolers, baseball caps and t-shirts – Gorham explains, ‘It’s less of a collection and more nostalgia you can wear, almost like memorabilia.’ McDean and Gorham bonded over cars a decade ago in Long Island when ‘Craig’s kids took my two year old daughter on a first date in an electric SUV up and down the lawn,’ recalls Gorham.

Which leaves only question. What is McDean’s car of choice to drive? ‘I was just in Milan and I took my Maserati Spyder out, it won the Turin Motor Show and it’s such a great car to drive.’ And for Gorham? ‘I just ordered the new electric Porshe last week. They call it the Tesla killer!’ §

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