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Toyota-inspired designs to debut at Fashion Focus Chicago

Sep '08
Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) has collaborated with a team of Chicago-based fashion designers for the world premiere of clothing inspired by one of the company's concept personal mobility vehicles.

Spurred by the futuristic TOYOTA i-REAL, this first-of-its-kind alliance of automotive engineering and fashion will take center stage at the internationally-renowned Fashion Focus Chicago 2008, in Millennium Park, the evening of Thursday, October 2.

Chicago-residing designers Agga B. Raya, Anna Fong, Melissa Serpico and Lidia Wachowska were chosen from a large talent pool of interested designers to create fashions derived from the TOYOTA i-REAL concept.

Introduced to the world at the 2007 Tokyo Motor Show, the completely-electric TOYOTA i-REAL was created closely to human scale as a step toward further development in the future.

The one-person vehicle has three wheels two at the front and one at the back. When operating in low-speed mode, its shortened wheelbase allows it to maneuver at eye-level naturally among pedestrians, without taking up large amounts of space.

In high-speed mode, the wheelbase lengthens to provide a lower center of gravity and better driving performance.

Shortly after their selection in May, the four young designers were flown to Japan to interact with the TOYOTA i-REAL and its engineering team. While overseas, the quartet gained creative inspiration by being immersed in the Japanese culture.

Their experiences ranged from trips to the country's fast-paced technology hubs to enjoying the serenity of the 1,000-year-old Atsuta Shrine in Nagoya.

"We are excited to showcase the fashions created by these incredibly talented designers," said Tetsuya Kaida, General Manager of TMC's Business Revolution Corporate Value Project Department.

"They worked hand-in-hand with our engineering and design teams to not only understand the i-REAL's functionality but its design ideology as well.

The fashions are marvelous in that they capture the interconnectivity of man to his environment, and the essence of technology for the sake of human betterment."

2008 marks the fourth year for Fashion Focus Chicago, which was created to celebrate the Windy City's thriving fashion industry. This year's show also has the distinction of being the location for Toyota's first foray into the fashion world.

"This is certainly a fashion-forward statement for our show," said Melissa Gamble, Director of Fashion Arts and Events for the City of Chicago. "It's a rarity where fashion is influenced by automotive design. It will make for an exciting evening."

The October 2 program is part of "World Fashion Chicago," presented by Chicago Sister Cities International. Representing the city's 27 sister cities, the show introduces internationally-based designers to the local fashion scene.

Designers representing Warsaw, Poland; Milan, Italy; and Shanghai, China will participate in the runway show, which begins at 7:30 p.m. in Millennium Park.


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