Posted By admin on March 11, 2009
A capacity crowd greeted me on March 5th for a presentation, “Model Year Change Over. . .Not Just Another Pretty Face.” Fifty-five people attended the presentation, which included my presentation, “Sirens of Chrome: The Enduring Allure of Auto Show Models”. Twenty-two people bought books and nearly everyone gained knowledge.
The Automotive Women’s Alliance Foundation, the premier organization of women business and professional members, hosted the event at the Management Education Center of Michigan State University. While the group dined on chicken, salad and chocolate cake, four models in size O and 3 vintage dresses strolled around, representing auto show fashions throughout the decades.
Many thanks goes out to AWAF event planners, Krista Coy and Carole Obeid and to Kim Ziomek, interim president who recognized instantly the power of fashion merchandising on auto sales. If anyone thought the ladies were Barbie dolls, they learned quickly how models integrated cars and high fashions from the frontline designers: Charles Frederick Worth, Coco Chanel, Ginanni Versace, Emilio Pucci, Betsy Johnson and Hugo Boss.
In the history of models (product specialists) and auto shows – models were as balanced as yoga instructors as they portrayed themselves as human hood ornaments in the 1920’s. In the 1960’s one model was mauled by a lion during a press conference. In the 1930’s some were fan dancers and furrier models for extravagant Ziegfield Follies type shows that opened the auto shows. Today there is much behind the scene preparation as studying new technology and knowing about the cars is primo. All this happens under bright lights, in three inches heels, and constantly answering questions about the vehicles. The product specialists are important because as fabulous as the cars are, they cannot talk and expand on their greatness.
With each show, and each auto show season, I find more appreciation for the product specialists who take their jobs seriously. They show up early to their assigned convention halls, are armed with stellar information, know their brand, make sure makeup and wardrobe are perfect. They review product materials and bulletins with manufacturing representatives assuring the most current information is shared with patrons. They keep a strong and positive attitude through long days. I love telling their story and the audiences love hearing it.
“We need some positive news,” said one participant. “Wow, look at the photos of happy days and classy cars,” said another. “Thanks for lifting us up,” said a woman in a St. John Knit and Ferragamo pumps. Today the world is wide open for a woman who can be a designer of vehicles, an engineer of power trains or a narrator at car shows. History helps trace the evolution of the auto business. Like all graphs there are peaks and valleys. During every phase the product specialists have been there ready to “talk car”.