International Women’s Day isn’t being celebrated loudly (or at all) here at the Geneva Motor Show, but just as I was despairing at the old-fashioned use of attractive young women in short skirts as car decorations, I stumbled upon a ray of gender-balanced sunshine. Liberty Walk, a Japanese company that mods supercars to give them extra performance and even sharper looks, has come to Geneva with a pair of booth models to attract the attention of passers-by: one man and one woman. Both are clad in flamboyantly untraditional kimonos. Neither is playing the role of a sex object.
It’s not often that you see a dude wearing orange and zebra-striped Pumas, a camo-patterned belt wrapped around a full-length robe, and a black beret. So when you do, you stop for a second look. And honestly, that’s all these car companies are after: a totem to entice people to stop at their exhibit instead of the countless others. It’s just bewildering to me that most have satisfied themselves with the trite practice of trotting out women in high heels and having them stand awkwardly next to the latest shiny automobile.
Not that I have anything against high heels. The lady at the Liberty Walk booth was wearing them too, and she was even wearing a corset, though it was ironically trussed up on the outside of her kimono. Women should be free to wear what they want, except when their job demands them to wear a uniform, and this is the thing that keeps repelling me from the traditions of Geneva and other car shows. Car manufacturers ought to recognize that they don’t need to be cheaply exploitative in their quest to attract eyeballs.
Just have a compelling product and be creative in the way you dress it up.
There’s a world of opportunity and creativity just waiting to be tapped by a company with a more forward-thinking mindset. In the case of Liberty Walk, the gent at the booth was the kimono designer responsible for the costumes, and his eccentric behavior leads me to believe he was there on his own whim rather than the company’s request. But still, this is a fine example for others to follow.