The day has come – the SEAT brand will be discontinued by the VW Group. This decision has been speculated upon for a long time; VW Group had been considering ending the SEAT brand, but it managed to survive until now. However, this announcement marks the final chapter for SEAT. SEAT will cease production of cars altogether at the end of the life cycle of the current-generation models (Source: Autocar). The future of the SEAT brand will focus on mobility solutions, such as electric scooters.
On the other hand, the CUPRA brand will continue to manufacture cars. CUPRA essentially represents the performance-oriented version of the SEAT brand.
Unfortunately, SEAT never managed to achieve millions in sales, and its brand image was somewhat confusing. Was SEAT meant to be an affordable alternative to Audi or a sportier version of Skoda? Additionally, SEAT cars often struggled to provide the same level of sales figures as other VW Group brands.
To be honest, I’m not surprised to hear that SEAT will be discontinued. My main concern now is what will happen to the people working for SEAT?
One of the most remarkable collaborations in the world of fashion has been between Doctor Bored and Christian Louboutin. Thanks to Doctor Bored’s influence, Christian Louboutin revived the iconic 130mm heels collection, making it a coveted item for fashion enthusiasts. If you were fortunate enough to secure a pair from this collection, consider yourself truly lucky, as these heels are now being sold at astonishing prices on platforms like eBay.
Recently, I had the privilege of connecting with Doctor Bored through Instagram. Following our insightful conversation, I had the opportunity to request an interview, and he graciously agreed to share his insights for my blog. This interview provides a unique glimpse into the world of a collaborator of Christian Louboutin, shedding light on the creative process and the fascinating stories that unfolded behind the scenes.
Read on for the exclusive interview:
Can you explain how did you become a designer?
My journey as a footwear designer wasn’t all straight forward. Drawing has been my passion since I was able to hold a pen with my left hand. I later got hooked on the world of fashion in my teenage years with designers like John Galliano and Alexander McQueen. After High school, I studied garment design at Esmod in Lyon, and in Paris where I graduated. I then had a very hard time finding the right internship so I ended up working at a PR firm for about a year. In spite of a very interesting and challenging time in the fashion PR world, I started to feel restless. I missed creating. I eventually left my job and found an internship as a footwear designer for a French brand called Mellow Yellow. They kept me as designer for about five years. I since moved on to being a pin-up illustrator and free-lance footwear designer. That’s where I am today.
What does fetish mean to you?
Fetish is such a complicated word. In my mind it is an obsession. I don’t see it as necessarily sexual but it certainly takes over your mind in a very peculiar way. When I started working on my illustration project Doctor Bored, I decided to first focus on fetishism, mostly the heel fetish but also all the decorum it implies like corsets, stockings, opera gloves, leather, riding crops and so on. It helped me set the ton and create a whole world filled with glamourous creatures, my Boredettes that are a mix of Dita Von Teese, Jessica Rabbit and various other references like Betty Boop and Disney’s Snow White, basically beautiful ladies in high heels.
I’ve always had a « thing » for high heels. As a child I never understood why I prefered some heels more than others. I later understood that the height of the heel was this big reason. That’s how I started to look up to designers like Christian Louboutin or historical shoemaker Maison Ernest. They were some of the only luxury houses to make heels higher than 110-120mm.
Your collaboration with Christian Louboutin was a great success. How did this happen?
It’s kind of a digital age fairytale. I’ve always been an admirer of Louboutin’s collections. It was one of my wildest dreams to ever work for him. Back in 2020, during the pandemic I met YazBukey on Instagram (who later did a gorgeous collection in collaboration with Louboutin as well). She and I had a great phone call and vowed to meet in person when we would be free. After the first lockdown (actually the day before the second one here) she invited me over for tea. As I usually do I brought her one of my illustrations as a gift. One of her friends saw it on Instagram and it was Christian’s closest collaborator. He showed my work to Christian and they called me to set up a meeting. We started working together in January 2021 and the rest is shoe-story !
From your words, what do you think and feel about Louboutin’s 130mm collection? For some people including me, they are art pieces.
In my opinion, the Louboutin’s 130mm collection is one of the boldest moves they ever made, especially business wise. He launched a collection of heels so high that very few people can actually walk in them. Despite that, people bought them anyway and are still collecting them to this day. They may not be the commercial success that a So Kate is, but they are true objects of desire. I agree with you, they are art pieces but also they have this dangerous sex-appeal that any forbidden item exudes. It shows how attached Christian is to creating something of his own, in spite of trends, business and even wearability!
I personally have an obsession with the Merci Allen 130, In my opinion it is the most perfect pump ever created ! That’s why when we started working on our collection together, I immediately asked to use this last and heel. As they had not released a 130mm heel in years I was very surprised that they agreed on making the Pinupina 130, which sold out very quickly ! This design in particular is my pride and joy !
Lastly, can you tell about your latest work with Christian Louboutin and La Fayette Paris?
Christian’s collaborator Hugo called me one day with this project, he needed me to illustrate legs wearing silver So Kate pumps walking on a red carpet for a very special project. It didn’t take long, they had a very clear concept and things moved on quite quickly after that ! It’s a very special project to me because I moved to Paris exactly ten years ago and started working as a shoe salesman at the Galeries Lafayette in July 2013. Ten years later, there were giant illustrations of mine on this magnificent building, in the heart of Paris. When I saw them for the first time, it was a reel pinch me moment for me. I couldn’t be more grateful to Christian, Hugo and the team for this opportunity.
YSL has done it again! The iconic French fashion house has introduced another cool and interesting product: a yoga ball. YSL is well-known for its range of intriguing items, exclusively sold at the Paris Rue Saint Honoré store and in LA, USA. These products typically feature everyday items with a stylish touch of YSL.
Honestly, I couldn’t resist and purchased several of them. The best part about these products is that they are available exclusively at those two stores and online!
Let’s talk about the yoga ball now. It’s a sleek black 70-cm yoga ball. While it may not be huge, it’s definitely cool to have. Besides, you can also use the yoga ball as a chair, and who wouldn’t want a YSL chair for just £50?
Ford Fiesta is gone after 47 years and eight generations in production, as it couldn’t compete with the growing popularity of SUVs. On July 7, 2023, the last Ford Fiesta rolled off the production line in Cologne, Germany.
The decision to cease Ford Fiesta’s production was mainly driven by the need for space in the factory to accommodate the upcoming Ford Explorer electric SUV. Martin Sander, the general manager of Ford Model E Europe, confirmed this reason.
The Fiesta’s production plant will be transformed into a fully battery-electric plant, a move that aligns with Ford’s strategy to focus on electric vehicles due to the declining sales of the Fiesta. Despite being in production since 1976 and holding the top-selling cars position in the UK from 2009 until 2023 (it even topped the list for the first five months of 2023), the Fiesta struggled to maintain its market share. The Ford Puma, on the other hand, gained more attention and market share, contributing to the Fiesta’s decline.
In addition to the Fiesta, Ford also axed the Mondeo, S-Max, and Galaxy models, replacing them with EV models. The Ford Focus is also scheduled to be discontinued by the end of 2025, and it is likely that by the time you read this article, all Ford models will have EV versions.
There was once a Ford Fiesta Vignale model known for its high-quality leather interior and top-spec features, making it a proper luxury car. However, despite its appeal, it couldn’t survive in the market.
Overall, the Ford Fiesta will be fondly remembered for its long legacy and its once-strong position as one of the UK’s top-selling cars. Its departure marks a new chapter in Ford’s journey towards a more sustainable and electrified future.
Finally, we are introduced to the epitome of luxury electric vehicles, the Rolls Royce Spectre. The Spectre gracefully replaces the aging Wraith with its all-wheel drive electric powertrain. I recently had the extraordinary opportunity to witness the Spectre’s presence at HR Owen Rolls Royce dealer.
Upon my first encounter, one thing was undeniable – its sheer size! The Spectre stands even larger than the Wraith, showcasing the new modular platform that Rolls Royce has implemented in the Ghost, Cullinan, and Phantom. To put it honestly, the Spectre is a grand coupe with an impressive stature.
The Spectre boasts two BMW electric motors harmoniously connected to a 100 kWh battery, resulting in a remarkable power output of 585 horsepower and 900 Nm of torque. However, it’s important to note that the Spectre carries a weight of 2975 kg, making it quite a heavy coupe. Therefore, one shouldn’t expect Tesla-like acceleration figures. The Spectre takes a modest 4.5 seconds to reach 100 km/h, which is impressive for a vehicle weighing three tonnes.
It is my belief that none of the Spectre owners acquired this Rolls-Royce for its performance capabilities alone. The electric drivetrain epitomizes the pinnacle of Rolls-Royce innovation. This renowned brand focuses not on high power outputs or acceleration, but on providing serene and peaceful journeys. The electric power of the Spectre will undoubtedly enhance the tranquility associated with Rolls-Royce.
Now, let’s discuss the range. The Spectre boasts a range of 519 km (323 miles) based on WLTP ratings. However, it is essential to consider that the urban driving range will be considerably lower. Given the substantial weight of this three-tonne vehicle, a significant amount of energy is required to for stop-and-go traffic.
One interesting fact is that the Spirit of Ecstasy, the iconic little statue on the radiator, has been redesigned to improve aerodynamics. This enhancement has contributed to the Spectre achieving an impressive aerodynamic coefficient of 0.25 cw.
Overall, the Spectre is an awe-inspiring car. If you have the means, it is a truly remarkable choice worth considering.
The future of car dealers was a prominent topic discussed at the Financial Times’ Future of Car Summit this year (2023). As the car industry embraces a more digital customer experience approach, the role of dealers is evolving.
For a long time, the prevailing belief in the car industry was that no one would buy a car online, and I have written about this extensively. Car industry insiders had a valid point: buying a car is a significant and critical decision, and many consumers would hesitate to make such a purchase online.
However, just before the pandemic, Tesla began accepting deposits for their cars online. The pandemic then had a profound impact on online shopping, as it became the primary option for consumers in 2020. As people grew accustomed to buying everything online, the question arose: why not cars?
Car companies have started redesigning their websites to offer an online shopping experience. However, they have been cautious about implementing Apple Pay, Google Pay, or PayPal buttons for purchasing cars online. Perhaps the perception is that cars are still too expensive to be bought online.
To illustrate, let’s consider an extreme example from the high-end fashion brand Hermes. Hermes is a French luxury brand known for its exceptionally expensive products.
One of their most lavish offerings is a £101,110 Sofa Sellier 5-seater corner. Surprisingly, this sofa can be purchased online using Apple Pay or a credit card.
While this example may be at the extreme end of the spectrum, there are customers who are willing to make such online purchases. If a sofa can be bought through Apple Pay, why not a car? After all, one can visualise the size, appearance, and features of a car more easily than an unfamiliar sofa.
Considering this perspective, it may be worth exploring the incorporation of Apple Pay, Google Pay, or PayPal in the car industry to gauge consumer reactions.
The one and only Christian Louboutin outlet in Bicester Village, England, is truly a hidden gem. Yes, believe it or not, there is a Christian Louboutin outlet, and I’ve had the pleasure of visiting several times. If you’re unfamiliar with Bicester Village, it’s located just north of London and a quick 46-minute journey by Chiltern Railways from Marylebone station.
I must admit, the concept of a Louboutin outlet may sound a bit unconventional, but trust me when I say it’s an experience you don’t want to miss. The shoes I discovered and purchased at this charming little store were absolutely amazing, and to top it off, the prices were nearly half of what you would find elsewhere!
Typically, the outlet receives seasonal colours or patterns, but you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the incredibly cool and unique options available. During my visits, I spotted many stunning So Kate and Hot Chick heels in a variety of eye-catching colours.
The shopping experience itself is nothing short of delightful. The staff is incredibly friendly and goes above and beyond to make your visit memorable. They even send you a list of shoes available at the store via WhatsApp before you arrive, adding a personal touch to your shopping adventure. What makes this store truly special is the unexpected treasures it holds. You’ll come across shoes that you may have missed or never even knew existed during the regular season. I’ve taken the liberty of sharing some snapshots of the fabulous shoes I encountered during my visits.
Now, I understand that some may raise concerns about the cost of traveling to Bicester Village, as train tickets from London amount to £31.60 for a relatively short journey. However, it’s important to consider the substantial savings you’ll enjoy when purchasing a pair of exquisite Christian Louboutin shoes. Additionally, becoming a Bicester Village member is completely free, and you may even have the chance to avail of additional discounts.
Please rest assured that this post is not sponsored in any way. It is purely my personal decision to share my remarkable experiences with you.
Bicester Village Christian Louboutin contact details
After a long hiatus, I returned to the Financial Time The Future of Car Summit 2023. Despite the pandemic, the summit continued in an online format. It was delightful to reconnect with familiar faces after four years. This year’s hot topic was, surprisingly, “Would you pay a monthly fee for heated seats in your car?” I understand that this might sound amusing and absurd. However, notable automotive brands such as BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen, Toyota, Audi, Cadillac, Porsche, and even Tesla charge a monthly fee for optional features available on their cars.
This represents a new paradigm! In the past, when purchasing a car, you would specify the desired features at the dealer, and that was the end of it. If you opted for heated seats, you would have them, or else you wouldn’t. Now, however, things have changed. All cars come equipped with all features, but you need to make monthly payments to activate them.
Mercedes-Benz has taken an unconventional approach by introducing a monthly subscription fee for increased acceleration.
The list of examples is extensive, but it is not something that consumers are happy to pay for. Here’s why: car companies compare this model to services like Apple Music, Netflix, or Spotify. They argue that tech companies, such as Apple, follow a similar approach. However, Apple never charges a fee for features like the ultra-wide lens or external speaker. Apple and Google charge for software. If you wish to listen to music, you can pay for Apple Music or download Spotify. Even if you choose not to pay for Apple Music, your iPhone’s speaker still functions. You are not limited to exclusively listening to music from Apple Music. Your iPhone will continue to operate properly.
During the FT summit, I posed a question to Matthew Simpkins from Salesforce. I inquired about Netflix losing customers after the pandemic, as people grew bored with the content and realised they were paying a substantial amount of money. Essentially, people became disinterested and stopped paying. I wondered if the same issue could arise in the future with car subscriptions. Matthew made an excellent point, highlighting that Netflix failed to introduce exciting new content, leading people to no longer find value in paying for the service. He suggested that the car industry could learn from this situation and take the opportunity to improve technology and introduce new features. Additionally, he emphasised the importance of bundling these optional extras with the monthly lease payments. Otherwise, customers may be reluctant to pay an additional £50 while already paying £500 per month. It was a great answer, and Matthew wrote an article about this topic on the Salesforce website, which you can read through the provided link.
From the perspective of participants, the majority at the FT Car Summit are not enthusiastic about paying a subscription fee specifically for heated seats. Drawing from my observations and experience in behavioural economics, it is clear that people generally dislike paying last-minute extra fees, such as delivery charges for online shopping or fees for individual features like heated seats. It would be more effective to bundle these fees into the overall price customers are already willing to pay. This way, the subscription fee would essentially become an optional feature fee. In essence, this approach would likely result in no significant change.
I believe the car industry is endeavouring to find new sources of income and taking inspiration from the tech industry. However, it’s important to note that the tech industry primarily sells software, unlike the automotive industry, which deals with high-priced products like cars. Attempting to retrofit a Netflix payment model to something like a BMW heated seat may not prove successful in the long term.
I attended Salon Privé this year and was worried I would be late, but my timing was perfect – I arrived just after the rain. Although the show was a bit wet, it didn’t stop people from attending.
The most iconic cars of this year’s event were the Ferrari F40 and F50. I have to admit, I am a bit biased towards these cars because they are rare and very hard to come by. Not only are the F40 and F50 limited in numbers, but they are also difficult to drive.
Like the previous year, I visited Anna-Louise Felstead’s stand, and as always, she had amazing paintings.
Ferrari introduced the soft-top version of the Ferrari Roma by HR Owen, called the Roma Spider. The final version of the Aston Martin DBS 770 Ultimate was also on display, marking the end of an era for V12 Aston Martins (except for the SUV).
Anyway, there were so many cars at the event. Salon Privé is the best car show in London, and you shouldn’t miss it next year.
I just realised that, I haven’t written anything about Montblanc for a long time. In an era of iPads and voice recognition, Montblanc and other fountain pen brands are still going strong. I don’t mean to say that these brands are just trying to survive – they are actually doing very well.
Recently, Montblanc unveiled a new fountain pen – the Writers Edition Homage to Brothers Grimm Limited Edition 8 Fountain – which is priced at £164,000. I’m too lazy to convert it to other currencies, but suffice it to say that it’s expensive in any currency.
This is a limited edition fountain pen, and unlike other limited edition Montblancs, the craftsmanship is at its finest level. While it’s not to my taste with the diamonds and gold, I have to be fair to the people who designed and made this fountain pen.
Does a fountain pen worth £164,000? It is up to you.