The King of Custom Cars
French interior designer Tristan Auer has created residences for rock stars, palace hotels for Rosewood, and projects for Cartier and Heidsieck. Now he’s become a custom car designer, turning heads with his chic reinterpretations of vintage automobiles.
What do you say about a man who shapes the world around him? A man who is able to see a room and ignore the four walls only to envision impossible materials and sensual shapes, who is trusted by the world’s most discerning clients to design their residences, hotels, boutiques, and even their cars? Tristan Auer is that man. The Paris-based designer’s passion for material design and interior architecture has led him to projects that include the renovation of Hôtel de Crillon, A Rosewood Hotel, for which he reimagined much of the ground floor’s public spaces. Auer has a sideline in what he calls “car tailoring,” helping collectors of vintage automobiles trick out their interiors. His custom car creations include the Crillon’s own bespoke Citröen DS, used to ferry guests to and from the airport in style. Now, Auer is partnering with the hotel to offer a custom tailoring of a Jaguar E-Type in collaboration with a lucky guest.
Rosewood Conversations recently sat down with Auer to learn more about his passion for classic cars.
When did you first start “tailoring” cars?
Four years ago with my own car. My friends all told me it was the worst idea ever [laughs].
How could they call it the worst idea ever? It’s the natural extension of what you do every day.
It’s natural for me, but that was not trendy at all. When you have a classic car, everybody wants you to keep it totally original, as it was, and not to change things. It changes the value of the car in the eyes of purist collectors. But what is the value of these classic cars? Speculation is passé—these cars are meant to be enjoyed, to have fun, to do something which is for you. This is true luxury.
Do you think that, given enough time, that the public would actually start to appreciate what you’re doing to a car as increasing the value, potentially?
I don’t think I care about that, because the value is not to sell it back. It’s to keep it forever—to create a treasure that is just for you. You cannot sell a stay at a hotel like the Crillon after it ends: It is something very personal to you. You can, of course, sell one of my tailored cars after, but the connection between owner and the object is lost.
If you’re passionate about classic cars, they can take you on an emotional journey. With the experience we put together with the Hôtel de Crillon, we start with a special hunt for a special classic car: the Jaguar E-Type. We then invite the customer to the Crillon for an incredible stay, at which point I meet with them to discuss their tastes and desires for the Jaguar E-Type, using the hotel as their muse. We then design the interior of the car together to make it an experience uniquely tailored to them. The object and the experience are forever linked, creating a very special bond between the car and its owner.
We live in a world where all people want to do is consume, and I think this trend is starting to show its age. Buy buy buy. Instant gratification. We aren’t satisfied with this anymore, and I believe that true luxury consumers are beginning to enjoy the art of waiting for something truly special to be tailored to their needs and desires.
WANT TO GO WORK WITH TRISTAN AUER TO
TAILOR YOUR OWN VINTAGE JAGUAR E-TYPE?
WITH ROSEWOOD LIMITED EDITION, YOU CAN.
Hôtel de Crillon, A Rosewood Hotel, and Tristan Auer have partnered to create an exclusive experience for lovers of vintage cars. You’ll join the celebrated designer on a private inspiration tour of Paris in the hotel’s vintage Citröen DS, then work together in his studio, hand-selecting every detail of your vintage Jag, including the leather and interior finishes. After the tailoring is completed, you’ll have the opportunity to enter your Jaguar into competition at the invitation-only Chantilly Arts & Elegance Richard Mille, to be held in 2021.
When you start picking the fabrics for a car, how does the process feel different than picking the fabrics for furniture, for instance?
It’s exactly the same process. It has to be soft, luxurious, sensual—exactly the same thing as an intimate room in your home. Because in the car, you constantly touch it. You are in constant contact.
When you began to redesign some of the spaces in the Crillon, did the conversation around designing their Citröen DS come along simultaneously?
From my side, yes, because I saw that clients should experience the Crillon before pushing open the front door of the palace. It starts when you land in France. The best ambassador for the hotel is the first one, which will be the driver as he tells you stories about Paris as you make your way to Place de la Concorde, and how special the Crillon is as part of the fabric of our city. You experience the Crillon and its values before you arrive—like an amuse bouche. This is what I proposed to the hotel, and we jumped at the chance together. The natural choice was, of course, the DS as a symbol for timeless French luxury, tailored with high fashion.