I’m travelling down the windy lanes of Bologna, Italy, in a glorious, shimmering blue open-top Huracan. The wind is hardly moving my heavily gelled hair but I can feel the tingly sensation of cold air rustling through my scalp. I’ve never driven a Lamborghini before and I’m certainly not testing the renowned top speeds this supercar is known for. I gingerly press down to overtake a lorry and the Lamborghini zips past effortlessly without missing a beat. It’s exhilarating having that much power beneath your feet. I can understand the obsession many people have about this supercar. Everything about the Lambo is slick, fast, hungry and ready. It’s a powerful beast, tamed by the owner who decides as and when to release the reins.
I keep mine firmly in check as I turn into the large industrial environs of the Lamborghini headquarters. Here on a visit to the factories that build these beautiful machines, I’m about to meet Katia Bassi, the Chief Marketing Officer of the Italian supercar brand. I ponder several conversational gambits—beyond driving, there are certain things I trust myself to do successfully, and that’s talking fashion. House renovation? But make it fashion. Carburetors? But make it fashion. Lamborghini? But make it fashion.
It turns out Bassi, a vision in a chic Self-Portrait dress and sparkling diamond rings, loves her fashion too. We chat about Chanel—“I love the purity of Lagerfeld’s lines in his designs!” Bassi applies the same design ethos to cars, linking the sinuous lines of the Lamborghini to the curves on a fitted couture dress. As we move from her office through the headquarters, I start to see how her passion translates easily to cars, and her descriptions equally apply to the sinuous curves of the supercar. If anything, a Lamborghini is the car equivalent of couture. Everything can be altered to fit your desires: Pink leather interiors inside your Aventador to match your crocodile Birkin? Done. Metallic paint finish on your new Huracan to match your nails? Your wish is their command.
The new female customer—independently rich, powerful, stylish and confident in her choices—wants a car as custom-fitted to her desires as her Chanel Haute Couture dress, especially as a car can be seen by all every single day of the year. Why would a woman who wants customisation for her fashion choices demand any less from her daily car? And no one is more aware of this than Bassi. “[Women] can buy a super sports car by themselves, they have the power to do it. We want to learn from them and what they are expecting from a super sports car of the future.”
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With Bassi leading the public face of Lamborghini, it’s clear that women are in the driver’s seat today. The first woman ever to join the Lamborghini board, with a solid background as the former Vice President of Aston Martin Lagonda, Managing Director of AM brands, plus positions at NBA Italy, Inter Milan and Ferrari, she’s one lady who’s cut her teeth in traditional male bastions without sacrificing one iota of femininity in the process. “Lamborghini is a brand for everyone who wants to express personality,” she says. “It’s not about being a man or a woman. It’s about how you feel and how you want to express that.”
Bassi is candid about the old brand image. “In the past, Lamborghini was seen as a very ‘testosterone’ kind of car, but it’s no longer like this.” She points to one of the newest models, the Urus, to illustrate. “We have the chance with an incredible project like the Urus to open up doors to a different audience. I call it the generous Lamborghini because you can enjoy it with the people that you love, with your friends, with your kids, whoever.”
Indeed, I was driven around Paris fashion week in the Urus just a week earlier. A surprising addition to a car brand known for sleek supercars, the Urus is like an SUV on steroids, built to carry four or five people comfortably, seating passengers high above the crowds, and giving direct eye contact with passers-by who will find it hard to ignore its intimidating presence. Designed for a family, it’s perfect for driving holidays around the countryside but equally good in an urban situation shuttling from work to school, as I witnessed in Paris, zipping around streets and tight corners with all the ferocity of a bull but the gentleness of pussycat.
From families to females, it’s clear Lamborghini is stepping up and addressing the climes and times of this era. “I believe it’s time to talk about Lamborghini as an inclusive brand, for everyone. We started a female advisory board that consists of women who have experience in terms of standing, in terms of fields of where they come from,” she adds.
Ultimately, in this new age, Bassi believes a Lamborghini can express humanity. “Of course, it’s a car but I would love people to see Lamborghini as human, because it’s made by people; people with passion.”
Photographed by Tommaso Meli.