From car cleaning to car dealing, fashion design to automotive design, calling Arthur Kar “versatile” is somewhat of an understatement when it comes to describing the talents of the founder of apparel and car brand, L’Art de L’Automobile. Fresh from unveiling his 968 L’ART car at Paris Fashion Week, he and designer Adrien Leborgne sat down to muse on the future of car culture, timeless car design and how they seek to create an inclusive space. Arthur’s passion for Porsche began as a teenager in Lebanon while he was on the hunt for work at a garage.
When he found himself at Porsche, he was immediately hooked. “You know when you go to a bakery and you eat one bread, and you think ‘That bread is amazing’, but then you find another bakery and discover that bread, and you decide to never eat anywhere else? That was me discovering Porsche. I felt like I had found my place. I went back every week to see the manager of the garage to ask him to hire me,” says Arthur.
After moving from Lebanon to Paris, Arthur met designer Adrien Leborgne in 2015 – it proved to be something of a catalyst. Like him an admirer of timeless car design, almost immediately Arthur saw what the two of them could be capable of together. “I said [to him], that we’re going to push the boundaries more than you’d ever expect,” says Arthur.
Fast forward to today. After years of building up Arthur’s L’Art de L’Automobile and his KAR brand across both cars and apparel, they were handed the opportunity to work with Porsche on a special 968 to mark the car’s 30th anniversary. “We wanted to change the shape of the car and make it our vision, with our lines, our dreams,” he says of the challenge. First, he decided they should go ‘cabriolet’ with what they have dubbed the 968 L’ART, since Arthur didn’t want the vehicle to have a roof. At this point Adrien interjects to give a lowdown on the car’s highlights, including how they added Recaro seats as well as black leather on the sides and graphic leather in the middle, its hue reflecting the colour of the eye-popping green exterior. Taking inspiration from the classic car designs that they both love, they used this nostalgia to reinvent something new.
Arthur becomes particularly animated when he starts to talk about what they did to the headlights for the 968 L’ART. They originally wanted to recreate those iconic examples of timeless car design, the round Porsche headlights, but deploying technology that’s never been used before. “The idea was that when the lights turned on, it would be like eyes opening, with the light shining through this special paint,” he says. But when it soon became clear that the timings weren’t going to work in their favour, Arthur – with something of a cheeky wink of his own – came up with an alternative approach. “I decided to keep to the style anyway and put eyebrows on the body, because for me every car has a face, just like we do. In the end we have two working lights in chrome. If you touch these ‘eyebrows’, you can actually feel that it makes a difference to the texture of the body.”
From there, Arthur’s days involved copious amounts of elbow grease and engine oil in his new endeavour, as his education and playground became the home to timeless car design – a Porsche garage. Even skipping school was something he managed to put his own spin on. “Eventually the school called my boss to say I was never there – assuming that I also never turned up to the garage,” says Arthur. “But my boss said that I was in front of him right now, fixing cars, and that I was there every day.
I was made to go to the school, and instead of being disciplined, the teacher said she respected me. She thought I was this bad guy, but speaking to my boss, she said it was first time in her entire career she’d heard something like this. So even then, Porsche was giving me part of what I am today.” While working as a mechanic, Arthur started on other jobs for people who sold cars, still focusing on his goal of buying his own Porsche alongside learning the trade.
“It’s a beautiful job, selling cars,” he says, “but it’s a job which doesn't make me feel like I’m creating something. So when I decided to open L’Art de L’Automobile as a car dealer, I was using it as a step. I used the garage as my step to be a mechanic, to become a car dealer and a Porsche owner. I wanted to show the auto world my vision of cars.”
The project also features a collaboration within a collaboration – TAG Heuer was tasked with creating a matching chronograph. This element of the project was particularly close to the hearts of Arthur and Adrien, because of its time-honoured link with Porsche history. Faced with an astoundingly short time to bring both car – and chronograph – to fruition, it’s a mark of their dedication and clear vision that they pulled off such a feat.
“I think this car can speak to different generations. You can see the past of the 968 and the Porsche heritage, but our new features represent both today, and a futuristic look at tomorrow,” says Arthur.
And for both Arthur and Adrien, both today and in the future, the need to embrace inclusivity – especially in car culture – is one of supreme importance. “Beautiful, luxury cars used to be possessions to show that you’re better than everyone else,” says Arthur.
“But our goal is to show that nobody’s better than anybody. We want you to have these cars and do the best you can in life. This is what I learned from Porsche.” Timeless car design is for everyone."
The pair’s vision to cultivate an inclusive community is ongoing – one that helps promote the idea that the three worlds of fashion, art and cars were the same worlds all along. “The only difference is that in the car space, people tend to only be into cars. In art, people are only into art, and fashion people are only into fashion,” explains Arthur. “It’s like the neighbours who don’t think they like each other, but they do, because they’re all the same. I’m basically the guy who’s going to come in with a hammer, break the wall and says, ‘We’re going to live in peace’.”
Similarly, Arthur believes that this is also embedded into the 968 L’ART collaboration. “Like Porsche, we know where we come from and never forget our vision. And this is exactly what we also like in fashion, art, and music. We don’t go and look at the top of the Billboard charts. We like to find the little rapper who’s in a small city, who will maybe get big because everything they say makes sense.”
Life is all about expression
As for inspiration, it goes beyond the automotive world – and music, in particular, is a huge influence. “Drake, Prince, Beyoncé, Sade, Andre 3000 – all these people inspire us to be who we are,” says Arthur, “but we are also the type of people who believe in artists way before they get big, like [US rapper and cousin of Kendrick Lamar] Baby Keem, because we see an expression that speaks to us. It’s the same when it comes to brands. If it’s a small start-up, like a guy who's doing it all himself and it’s the right fit, we want to support it. This is the ethos behind my company.”
When it comes to the buzz around L’Art de L’Automobile itself, a clutch of influential names have joined in with the acclaim, including Artistic Director of Louis Vuitton and CEO of Off-White, Virgil Abloh, who has given his support of the 968 L’ART car on Instagram. “Virgil and I have been good friends for ten years,” says Arthur of their relationship. “We both started from the bottom. We respect each other’s work. He inspires me as much as I inspire him. And we are proud of him – he’s part of the family.”
The future of L’ART
After being flaunted in the City of Lights, the 968 L’ART is set to strike out on a global tour to inspire more wonder. Over the next few months it will be heading off to the likes of London, Tokyo, and Los Angeles – a stylish, four-wheeled evangelist for car culture across the globe. Meanwhile, Arthur already has his eyes and mind on his next car – potentially a 993 GT2 – to add to his Porsche fleet of cars that include such timeless car designs as a 911 GT2 RS, Carrera GT and 964. Arthur and Adrien’s ultimate goal? As we’ve come to expect already, it’s a bold one. “We want to launch a car with Porsche! One that a lot of people have the chance to own. We want more people to know there is a whole world of cars out there which everyone can enjoy and feel connected to.”