IAC Group chief administrative officer Iwona Villaire wearing a sustainable evening gown designed by the company for the NAIAS charity preview. photo credit: Anthony Morrow, Bureau Detroit.


When our client IAC Group asked us to help them develop an idea that would bring them awareness and media attention related to the return of the North American International Auto Show, we looked within the company to find our inspiration.

IAC is a leading global supplier of automotive components and systems. Their primary focus is interior innovations such as instrument panels, door trims, and headliners, working with OEMs such as BMW, Mercedes Benz, General Motors, and Ford to bring the interior vision they have for their makes and models to fruition.

IAC's purpose is to create environments that move you.

That elevation of the brand was the platform we used to develop what we simply referred to as "The Gown".

A Return to Elegance

It's been two years since we've seen the North American International Auto Show, and that includes the black-tie charity preview that occurs the Friday before the event opens to the public. The preview event has annually been presented as a lean-forward event, broadcast on Detroit's local ABC affiliate, WXYZ. It's as much a tradition as the show itself. With a focus on sustainability and electrification, we worked with IAC to develop a concept that aligned with the virtues of IAC - elegantly engineered, boldly executed, elevating the best in sustainable technology with precision and speed.

In repeating the brand pillars of IAC, it was evident that parallels could be made to the fashion industry. More so, fabrics and materials that were used in the manufacturing of the very interiors millions of people sit in daily could be used for garments and fashion. The gown was the perfect convergence of the automotive and fashion industries.

This insight was shared with our clients, who fully embraced the idea of designing a gown - IAC's Chief Administrative Officer created the original sketch and IAC's talented global teams - including engineering and industrial sewers helped bring the gown to fruition with unprecedented speed. Everything on the gown aligned with IAC - made from three sustainable materials and jewelry made from recycled ocean plastics. It was a monumental effort, but one where everyone was excited to have a place in participating.

A Lesson in Storytelling

The gown is a great example of client creativity while staying close to their core.

Creating a contextual Venn diagram between events (NAIAS and New York Fashion Week), purpose (Using sustainability as a pillar to design and create world-class auto interiors), and creativity (developing a gown made of sustainable automotive materials) is a winning combination for creating attention for your brand. The story is in the dress itself and we're grateful to have worked on this project.

We look forward to seeing Iwona wear the gown at the North American International Auto Show Charity Preview!