My Car Quest

April 18, 2019

Sports Car Fashion: Art On Leather

Wherein A Portraitist of Cars describes Ralph Lauren as inspirational.

by Angelita Castenada –

Wallace Wyss, an accomplished fine artist and frequent contributor to My Car Quest, says Ralph Lauren is an inspiration to car people.

Why? Well, not only because the famous clothing magnate has corralled some $300 million worth of the most coveted collector cars on earth in his private collection (including a Bugatti Atlantique, a Ferrari 250GTO and a 250LM) but because he time and time again shows he can capture the zeitgeist of an era with a garment.(If you look that German noun up in the Oxford dictionary it is defined as “The defining spirit or mood of a particular period of history as shown by the ideas and beliefs of the time.”

The latest example, Wyss points out, is from Ralph Lauren’s Double R Ranch sub-label–a series of A-2 styled leather jackets which are “distressed,” i.e. weathered, though the weathering is strictly cosmetic, the jackets not actually having frayed sleeves or torn linings as a well-worn jacket would have after decades of use.
The style has a lot of nicknames, such as “bomber Jacket,” or “aviator jacket” or “flight jacket.” Usually only waist length, sometimes they are also called “Eisenhower jacket” because the General wore one that length.

Ralph Lauren's Double R Ranch

“You wear one of the Double R Ranch flight jackets and it looks like you’ve been wearing it for 40 years,” says Wyss, “which is kind of ironic if you’re only 20.”

“You’re sort of buying an instant I-worked-hard-all-my-life” look,” says Wyss. Some of the Double R Ranch jackets have military cloth badges, or stars (similar to Korean war era transports) and one RL design even has a large skull and crossbones on the back.

Stores selling them seem to be charging in the $950 to $1400 range for these jackets. “Leather aviator jackets go back to World War I,” says Wyss. “I haven’t seen his jackets in person so I don’t know how soft they are, but for me, once I decided to use leather jackets as a way of getting the word out on my paintings, I decided I’ll buy only soft leather as I find the actual military A1, A2 and G1 jackets too hard surfaced.”

Rather than military patches such as the Double R Ranch jackets sport, Wyss plans to have car patches, the first ones bearing either a Ferrari prancing horse or name logo.

100 PAINTINGS IN HIS ARCHIVE

Since the early 2000s, when he broadened out from historian to assuming the role of a fine artist, Wyss has created over 100 paintings he can select from. He has the image of the painting selected transferred to cotton, and then has the cotton hand-sewn on.

Wallace Wyss Leather Jacket

When someone commissions a portrait of their collector car from him, Wyss plans to include with the 20” x 30” oil on canvas giclee a leather jacket bearing a cloth image of the same painting.

“I debated for a while whether the tifosi would prefer leather or denim,” he says. “And I started experimenting with denim, but once I saw how well the Double R Ranch brand has so perfectly captured the essence of a well-worn flight jacket, I decided I had to go with leather.”

Wallace Wyss Jacket

The second jacket made had Wyss’ painting of a Testa Rossa at a beach in Malibu.

Wyss has ordered some marque patches but is cautionary about their use. “My feeling is that wearers of these jackets don’t want too much promotion from the front view,” he says. “So I’m keeping the patches small and confining them to only one per jacket.”

Those interested can reach Wyss at mendoart7@gmail.com

Wyss painted the word “PROVA” on one jacket. In Italy, when automakers are testing cars they run plates that have “PROVA’ to announce that it’s a test car and then two letters for the city so Ferrari is “PROVA MO”, test car from Modena.

Wallace Wyss Leather Jacket

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Summary
Sports Car Fashion: Art On Leather
Article Name
Sports Car Fashion: Art On Leather
Description
Since the early 2000s, when Wyss broadened out from historian to fine artist, he has created over 100 paintings he can select from. The image of the painting is transferred to cotton, and the cotton is hand-sewn on the jacket.
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Comments

  1. Well, I’m fascinated by these jackets and if I was wealthy I’d love to have one or two with my two sports cars( a 1957 TR3 and a 1980 911 SC Targa) on the back.

    Art . .

    • wallace wyss says

      I like both those cars. I have done a Porsche 911 already. Email me some pics and we’ll talk. Thanks for the enthusiasm. By the way I wouldn’t do a car whose styling I didn’t like, like a ’59 Chevy. Every artist has his line in the sand, right?
      Wally

      mendoart7@gmail.com

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