Clothes make the man

January 14, 2010

sergio1

Forget the power suit. Behold the rise of the power sweater.

Sergio Marchionne, the auto executive steering the still-evolving alliance between Fiat and Chrysler, came to the Detroit auto show this week with no new models to display.

So the attention of the automotive press turned instead to Marchionne’s signature styling — rumpled sweaters, casual slacks and a professorial air that makes him a stand-out in Detroit’s sea of sober dark suits.

Known for his long work hours, limited sleep and chain smoking, Marchionne’s penchant for dropping quotes from Friedrich Nietsche, Karl Marx and Karl Popper also adds to his air of an academic who has wandered into the board room by mistake.

So how many black sweaters does Marchionne own?

“I buy them in the dozens,” he said at an auto industry conference on the sidelines of the auto show. “I don’t sleep very much so I buy them on the Internet. They come in all the time.”

Marchionne said other Chrysler employees were welcome to follow his sartorial lead — but not too closely.

“There are other colors,” he said. “Exact emulation may not be advisable.”

For those who want to play along at home, Car and Driver magazine and www.caranddriver.com offer a Marchionne paper cut-out. You can dress the maestro in any color, as long as it’s black.

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