Land Rover has joined forces with British fashion legend Sir Paul Smith to design a bespoke version of its iconic Defender.
The project is part of Land Rover's year-long celebration of the Defender as it enters the final phase of manufacturing at the Solihull factory, and was unveiled at Smith's shop in London's Mayfair today.
Sir Paul has long been a fan of the car, having owned several and was keen to get involved with the project. “The Defender is a British icon, which is something I’m exceptionally proud of,” said Smith. “I keep a Defender at my home in Italy, which is in the middle of the countryside, so it’s the perfect vehicle to cope with the rugged terrain.”
Smith worked with Land Rover’s Special Vehicle Operations (SVO) team, which specialises in individual customer commissions and personalisations. Between them they created the one-off car, which has 27 different colours used on the exterior panels, as well as a well-appointed and detailed interior.
Smith says the palette was inspired both by the British countryside and colours historically seen on Defenders used by the military. He gave the SVO team a set of Pantone colours which they mixed and applied to the car as directed.
In the cabin, Smith wanted to give the utilitarian interior a lift and used a variety of materials and colours to do so. He explained "I wanted to give this Defender a feeling of luxury, so I used a mix of leather and fabric for the seats. I actually used the fabric that I design for Maharam, the American upholstery company. Inside, black leather contrasts against blue stitching and there are lots of little hidden details throughout. For example, there is an image of a set of keys printed inside the glove compartment. Then there is a hand-painted bee on the roof, which is another tongue-in-cheek reference to the countryside and the heritage of the car. Also, the traditional Defender clock has been replaced with a Paul Smith fascia. My designs are known for their attention to detail, so I didn’t want this Defender to be any different.”
More subtle changes are the use of satin finishes on the wing mirrors, door handles and wheels Smith feels give the car a contemporary feel.
Gerry McGovern, Design Director and Chief Creative Officer of Land Rover, adds: “I felt it would be a fitting tribute to the iconic Defender, that one of Britain's most distinguished designers worked with the Land Rover team to recognise his creative vision.”
The Paul Smith Defender is destined to be a museum piece.
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