In 1976, Lincoln, a division of the Ford Motor Company, pioneered the concept of celebrity and lifestyle co-branding in the automotive industry with its Designer Series for the luxurious Continental Mark IV. This innovative approach aimed to offer exclusivity to luxury car buyers through collaboration with famous names in the world of fashion and style, such as Bill Blass, Cartier, Hubert de Givenchy, and Emilio Pucci.
Hubert de Givenchy, the esteemed French fashion designer associated with icons like Audrey Hepburn and Jackie Kennedy, contributed to the Givenchy edition. This model boasted Aqua Blue high-metallic paint, a white vinyl roof, and interior options in Aqua Blue leather or Aqua Blue velour.
Italian fashion designer Emilio Pucci, known for vibrant colours and bold prints, lent his style to the Mark IV Designer model, which showcased a Dark Red Moondust Metallic exterior and all-red upholstery options in Dark Red Versailles Velour or Dark Red Leather.
Bill Blass, the American clothing designer celebrated for his classic taste, collaborated on the Bill Blass edition. This model featured a Dark Blue velour or leather interior, complemented by Dark Blue Diamond Fire Metallic exterior paint and a contrasting cream-coloured vinyl landau top.
The Cartier edition, co-branded with the renowned Paris jewellery maker, showcased Dove Grey exterior paint with a matching vinyl roof and Dove Grey cloth or leather interior.
All four Designer Series models shared identical mechanical specifications, including dished aluminium wheels standard in the Designer Series. Each car bore the designer’s signature in Mark IV’s trademark opera windows and featured an engraved, gold-plated emblem on the instrument panel.
The success of the Designer Series programme led to its continuation in the Continental Mark series for several years, with Cartier transitioning to the Lincoln Town Car platform until 2003. While the era of battery-powered SUVs may bring about new trends, the Designer Series remains a historical example of successful co-branding in the automotive world.