Styling a masculine edge.
Style icons in private.
The best of technological engineering is bound to produce something powerful. Add the input of a designer with a flair for finessed elegance in the smallest details, and you’ll taste the sublime. But when that creator champions an epic past – the jazz cats of the 50s and 60s, the golden age of Hollywood, and David Bowie – things get dreamlike and larger than life. As did the CLS 63 AMG Shooting Brake by Spencer Hart, unveiled at the recent London Collections: Men.
Fuel consumption combined: 10,6-5,3 l/100 km;
combined CO₂-emission: 248-139 g/km.*
Nick Hart, founder and Creative Director of London’s Savile Row tailor house Spencer Hart, is the AMG Performance Studio collaborator and styling author to this special edition maverick that will leave you anxious for endless tarmac. As a clothier, Hart sees the project as a “wonderful opportunity to get involved in a new product area.” His aesthetic is overall subtlety with just the right pinprick of subversive rebellion in striking an edge. That structure has been applied to the Shooting Break, a gentleman’s car whose heritage stretches back to British shooting parties of the 1950s and 1960s.
A smooth traveller in styles.
The result? One wouldn’t be too surprised to see the Rat Pack roll up to The Sands in this sleek bullet. Incidentally, neither would it be unsuitable for Benedict Cumberbatch to use it as a Sherlock Holmes continent-roamer. The borderline genius of Hart is that he’s managed to supremely attune the romantic aura of a bygone era to an extremely modern demand. Yet he does it all with a disguised complexity that leaves you wondering why you’re still in admiration. This game of perception and mystery demands an investigation, and I fly to London to speak with Nick Hart on his experience in Mercedes-Benz’s first UK fashion collaboration.
A unforgettable silhouette.
Nick, tell us how it all began.
Well, I was at Goodwood the year before last, and they had just launched the Shooting Break. I saw this car, a beautifully shaped car, and I talked to Rob Halloway (Communications Director, Mercedes-Benz UK) about it. He then suggested that we form a collaboration to create a Spencer Hart “special edition.”
What especially appealed to you while styling the Shooting Brake?
It was creating a new exterior colour for Mercedes-Benz, a midnight blue.
Elegance is midnight blue.
New for Mercedes-Benz, but based on your signature tailoring colour.
That’s right. There’s a whole mythology around the idea of midnight blue in that it photographs better than black, and it’s richer than black. For evening black-tie wear, the Duke of Windsor, who was a clothing fanatic, always wore midnight blue rather than black. If there were only one colour I could work with, it would have to be midnight blue.
A highly aestheticplay of colours.
How did you bring your usual design work as a tailor to this collaboration?
I’m used to working within narrow perimeters because the Spencer Hart design aesthetic ethos is to look effortless. I try to create as much design as possible within a narrow space. In clothing, we might put a black silk detail next to a midnight blue so it’s a tone-on-tone, creating richness and texture. The colours play off each other. Some of the things I wanted to do with the car involved blacking out the chrome details so the black works off the midnight blue. For the interior, I wanted chocolate brown working off black working off midnight blue – it’s seamless, they’re not screaming or fighting each other, but working in harmony.
What did you envision for the Shooting Brake as a final image?
I wanted the car to be… a bit sinister? Quite sexy and exciting in a masculine way, a little bit Batman. I wanted it to be something that felt and looked powerful but also effortless.
So that the viewer wouldn’t be able to summarise why it looked so powerful as a combined package.
A hint of Hollywood'sgolden age.
What’s the inspirational heart to styling this car?
The car evolved out of a side of Spencer Hart that goes back to the black and white photographs of musicians and actors in the golden age of Hollywood. The car relates in my mind – not intentionally – to music. Also, there are elements of the film called “Cracked Actor”, a documentary about David Bowie in the 1970s, with a scene that shows him being driven across California in the back of a limousine. So there’s a little bit of Bowie and a bit of the likes of Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles, and Sammy Davis Jr., and all those wonderful black and white pictures of these amazingly cool icons. Those informed the colour palette that we work with.
A fusion of technics and aesthetics.
You collaborate with individuals in tailoring suits to them. How did you find the collaboration with AMG on the Shooting Brake project?
It’s working with arguably the best engines and best engineering in the world. It’s all there; you’ve reached perfection. And then it’s applying our aesthetics to that and working within those perimeters. For me, the beauty of the collaboration is that we’ve created something that’s truly unique, putting all our strengths into one package.
Thank you for speaking with us Nick Hart.