How a supplier took automotive materials and created a NAIAS Charity Preview dress

Kalea Hall
The Detroit News

This year's Detroit auto show Charity Preview gala will bring a fresh concept to the auto prom with the reveal of a dress made using recycled automotive supplies. 

Iwona Niec Villaire, chief administrative officer of International Automotive Components Group, and other company leaders wanted to do something to honor the return of the North American International Auto Show after its more than three-year hiatus. They also wanted to highlight the sustainability efforts of IAC, a Luxembourg-based global supplier of automotive components and systems including instrument panels, console systems, door panels, headliners and overhead systems.

IAC Group Chief Administrative Officer Iwona Villaire will wear a gown made of Dinamica, a microfiber fabric material partially derived from recycled polyester. IAC Group uses the same material for the headliners it makes for vehicles produced for the U.S. market

Villaire sketched out a vision and 16 weeks later she had a blue, flower-adorned gown fully made of recycled automotive supplies by a global team of IAC Group’s designers and seamstresses. The gown will pair with sustainable earrings for Villaire to wear for this year's Charity Preview event on Sept. 16. 

IAC Group Chief Administrative Officer Iwona Villaire wears a gown created and sewn by IAC seamstresses. The gown uses three types of sustainable materials traditionally found in several of IAC Group’s automotive applications. Villaire will wear the gown at the 2022 North American International Auto Show Charity Preview event.

"The same things that I look for, or other people look for, in fashion are the same things people look for in the interior of their cars," Villaire said. "You want things to be elegantly designed, you want them to be precisely executed ... everything has to be perfect because you're looking at it all the time."

With that in mind, and Villaire's sketch in hand, the IAC global team got to work, pulling the right materials and stitching the gown to life. 

The project was a "great way to show how we work together across the globe and showcase our award-winning seamstresses work that they do and our materials people who are always looking at better ways to make our products so that they're more recyclable and have a lower carbon footprint."

The formal floor-length gown has three sustainable automotive materials supplied by IAC for different applications.

The dress is made out of Dinamica microfiber fabric material that partially comes from recycled polyester. The same material is used for headliners or the ceilings in vehicles.

The flowers that stretch from the top to the bottom of the gown are a combination of cork coverstock and laser wood coverstock, which are both plant-based renewable resources, according to the company. Coverstock is used on door panels.

IAC Group Chief Administrative Officer Iwona Villaire wears earrings handmade by an IAC Group engineer using materials made from recycled ocean plastics. The jewelry will be worn by Villaire at the 2022 North American International Auto Show Charity Preview.

The jewelry made to pair with the dress, including a set of earrings, was created from two sustainable materials, ocean plastics and mold in color plastic. IAC’s mold in color plastic has no paints or films, which eliminates fumes, gasses and solvents, making the material easily recyclable. 

IAC Group’s advanced engineering team — Susan Kozora, director of advanced engineering and Michael Behnke, director, innovation and advanced technology in Europe,  coordinated on selecting materials for the dress. 

Urszula Olkiewicz, junior trim engineer at IAC Group’s Opole, Poland, facility took Villaire's sketch of the dress and designed the gown from the selected materials.

Olena Korolova, sewing production operator responsible for sewing for serial production and new products at IAC Group’s Opole facility, assisted Olkiewicz. They also created IAC Group Chief Commercial Officer Sebastian de Coster a tie to wear at the event. 

The Charity Preview has raised more than $100 million for children’s charities in southeastern Michigan in the past 25 years. Beneficiaries for this year’s Charity Preview include: Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan, The Children’s Center, The Children’s Foundation, Detroit Auto Dealers Association Charitable Foundation Fund, a fund of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, Detroit PAL, and the University of Michigan Health C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.