Cars are Cars, and Fashion is Fashion and never the twain shall meet? Wrong! Fareeda Kanga steps into the exhilarating world of sleek automobiles and high fashion at Museo Automovilistico de Malaga, Spain, and gives us the lowdown.

Dec 22, 2023 FAREEDA KANGA No Comments Like

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If you happen to be in Malaga – The birthplace of Pablo Picasso and gateway to the Costa Del Sol, don’t miss out on this truly unique museum. Not just a treat for automobile lovers -- this one manages to draw a rather eclectic parallel between the world of haute couture and automobiles! Curious?

The Automobile and Fashion Museum of Malaga was a labour of love for a wealthy Portuguese man, Joao Magalhaes, who basically inherited his passion for cars from his father, Jose Antonio Magalhaes.

Decades ago, Jose Antonio Magalhaes, a Portuguese fabric manufacturer, began collecting cars. Starting with a small collection he added to his kitty – carefully restoring and maintaining each one with precision and care. 

As a consequence of Portuguese’s Carnation Revolution in the mid-'70s, some of his collection sadly vanished. A couple of the cars were smuggled across the border to Spain and kept safely in a secret location. After normalcy returned, he started to get back what he had lost, and added many to his fleet. Sadly he passed away soon after…
His son, Joao Magalhaes, as a memorial to his father, resurrected the car collection -- one model at a time. He travelled around the world identifying unique cars to fit his thematic collection, ultimately acquiring around 90. Next, he needed a place that could house his mammoth collection and ensure the elegance and sophistication the vehicles represented.

A former tobacco factory building, Tabacalera de Málaga, abandoned for almost 30 years, suited Magalhães perfectly. He then requested the Spanish Government to grant him permission for a museum, which they did, being acutely aware that this unique collection was one of the most complete in Europe. The restoration work on the run-down building, overseen by the architect Carolina Serrano, began in 2008. Finally, in September 2010 its doors opened, to the delight of the locals: The Malaga Automobile Museum (Museo Automovilistico de Malaga) was up and running.
Joao, was a fashion designer, and knew little about cars and mechanics. Nevertheless, he loved their style and shape; in fact, he was so taken in by them that he sought out the most unusual and rare ones. Some he found in barns, some buried, and many even dismantled. The painful restoration process took a great deal of time, but as he said, "It was the impossible ones that took longer."
Back to the cars.

The museum is cleverly divided into 13 sections amongst which are The Golden '20s, La Belle Epoque, Art Deco, Designer Cars, American dream cars, Alternative energies, English Tradition, La Dolce Vita, Tuning, and Engines, to name a few. The entire collection is worth around 25 million euros, and is one of the most important rare car collections in the world. 

On display are 99 restored vehicles to the highest level and more than 300 haute couture pieces, which are a living example of the evolution of society. From jaw-dropping models such as Jaguars, Cadillacs, Rolls Royces, Bentleys Ferraris, Aston Martins and Porsches there is in fact, even a carriage from yesteryears.Many have even been customised with fur, mother-of-pearl and psychedelic art! From a black Rolls Royce embedded with Swarovski crystals, there is a picnic car with its seats, carriers fashioned out of cane. It also has a picnic basket containing cutlery. The Egg or El huevo is an egg shaped German car and then there is also the Fuldamobil to name a few..

And then just when you think it is only about the four wheelers, Joao has brilliantly woven in unique aspects of fashion with the most amazing designer collections ranging from Chanel, Versace, Oleg Cassini, Dior, Balmain, Patou, Louis Feraud, Dolce & Gabbana alongside each collection of cars drawing parallels between these two worlds.

The glamour of old Hollywood is represented through the cars on display. For example, there is the Chrysler Presidential, that Grace Kelly, princess consort of Monaco, drove every time she went to visit her future husband, Rainier. You can also see the limited-edition Excalibur, that none other than the famous action cinema stars, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone, used to buzz around on Hollywood Boulevard.

The extravagant hats of the Italian designer Silvia Bruschini, collaborator of John Galliano are another must see. 


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