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Fashion / Cars

A Batman Car Turns Heads at Fashion Week

How Tesla Stole the Beautiful Models’ Catwalk Thunder

BY Jim Shi // 02.18.16

Neiman Marcus fashion director Ken Downing has been stealing the limelight at New York Fashion Week — and it has nothing to do with his precision-cut blonde coif or scuff-free suede Saint Laurent boots. Rather, the towering fashion executive has, for the past week, been driven around in Tesla Motors’s much-hyped Model X crossover as part of a special Tesla Talks series broadcast on the retailer’s YouTube channel.

The fashion interviews (#NMTeslaTalks), conducted in the backseat of the spacious seven-seater, include designers Wes Gordon, Rachel Zoe, Prabal Gurung, Max Osterweis and Erin Beatty of Suno, as well as Harper’s Bazaar editor Glenda Bailey. To access said backseat, however, requires Downing and his fashion friends to stand back (often in Instagram-worthy awe) as a pair of falcon wing doors mechanically lift up and out in order to provide entry to the Tesla.

“ ‘Batman & Robin’ from my childhood was my retro reaction!” says Downing. “The falcon doors give the entire experience a superhero vibe and attract a lot of attention!”

Indeed, the gleaming white exterior of the Model X, coupled with matching Ultra White seats and the largest windshield of any modern vehicle on the road today, make the car about as inconspicuous as Lynn Wyatt making her entrance at the Houston Grand Opera Ball. “It’s getting more attention on the sidewalk than many are giving the catwalk,” Downing jokes. “Everyone is mesmerized by this car.”

With standard all-wheel drive, the fully electric-powered cruiser, which starts at around $80,000, was a capable hauler even during a snowstorm that hit New York City — ensuring it will all but blend seamlessly into the toniest of football-mom neighborhoods when delivery ramps up later this year. Its 90 kWh battery provides roughly 257 miles of range, and should market appointments have Downing running late to a show, a zero-to 60-miles per hour time of 3.2 seconds ensures him an on-time arrival. Power outlets in the back seat keep Downing’s two iPhones and iPad remain fully charged at all times; about the only thing missing is a barista to keep him fully caffeinated. But never say never.

“Fashion is always about looking to the future, not only how we dress, but how we live,” offers Downing. “Besides, my carbon footprint is beyond repairing with the amount of time I spend in airplanes. 
I’m hoping I gain a little good karma from Mother Nature spending a week in a car that’s kind to the environment.”

Home, chic home.

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