What Would Lapo Do?-------
I’ve just joined the ranks of the Ferraristi, me, who’s never been behind the wheel of a car. But after 48 hours in Maranello, the northern Italian town that is Ferrari’s nerve center, all I want for Christmas is an FF four-seater. It looks chic in a pearlized off-white, a shade called Ingrid after Ingrid Bergman, whose lover Roberto Rossellini gifted her a Ferrari in that color as a wedding present. (The actress, who didn’t drive, was unamused. “Oh, just what you wanted,” she snapped—or a four-letter variant to that effect.) Though maybe I’d rather have the California model, in a rich matte blue like Lapo Elkann’s. His has a denim interior. I prefer something in Hermès orange.
Anyway, whatever I want I can get, courtesy of Tailor Made, the new initiative that style arbiter Lapo is spearheading. It’s the haute couture of car customization, a sky’s-the-limit opportunity for Ferrari customers to turn their wheels from a mere extension of their personality into an objet d’art that is the very mirror of their souls. Which conjures up delightful visions of freeways full of wild and wacky racers, 21st-century counterparts to John Lennon’s psychedelic Rolls-Royce from 1967 (it sold at auction in 1985 for $2.2 million, which is a mere bagatelle compared to the $16 mil snared by a vintage Ferrari last year). Dream on. “We don’t want to be in the prison of the past,” declares Luca di Montezemolo, the company’s urbane but steely CEO, but there is, after all, the bella figura of one of the world’s great brands to protect. Maybe that won’t pose such a challenge while the Ferraristi still seem so innately respectful of tradition. More than a third of the 7,000 cars Ferrari produces annually are ordered in the company’s signature racing red (even though red actually used to account for 80 percent of orders, and customers in those all-important emerging markets are increasingly turning to white). In the Maranello compound’s working museum, where old Ferraris come to be resuscitated, there are, however, a couple of models from the early seventies that have been specced inside and out for a new client in dubious shades of pink. Very tellingly, that just looks terribly wrong. So, with this new program, di Montezemolo will have the last word on just how tailored the make actually is.
Still, it’s tempting to imagine that the tone of Tailor Made will be set by Lapo Elkann, the 34-year-old Fiat scion whose life and style have been shaped by easy access to the best—and the worst—that all the money in the world can buy. His own aesthetic has been celebrated in every best-dressed and most-stylish list there is, but what gives his style its allure is its exaggerated, almost twisted edge. The twist can be as subtle as the heavy linen that Lapo’s Prince of Wales checked suit is cut from, or as out-there as the camo that patterns his other Ferrari. (And what other captain of industry sports a bright blue Toy Watch?) So while you consider these choices for your interior (Kevlar or cashmere? Pinstripes or paisley? Rubber or Madagascan crocodile?), entertain yourself by wondering What Lapo Would Do. The two years you have to wait for your car should give you plenty of time to second-guess your decisions. And it’ll give me more than enough time to get a driver’s license.