Article and video by: Hannah Elliott with Forbes
Setorii Pond just may be the perfect woman.
Her raven hair and hourglass figure attract attention even at a casual lunch in West Hollywood. Kim Kardashian and Sophia Bush wear gowns from her eponymous fashion line. Educated in Switzerland, she holds two university degrees and has a couture book, The Art of Setorii, due out this summer.
She also has 110 supercars parked in her garage.
“My first car was a ’65 Mustang–actually ’64-and-a-half,” Pond told me. “I had just turned 15, and my grandfather said, What do you think of this car? I said, It’s brick brown so that’s not very pretty. It did have a stereo though, so I started driving it. Then all of a sudden I started getting attention from men–my age, older, it didn’t matter. Ever since…I mean, when I was a little girl I loved cars, but that was really a fun first car.”
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She’s come a long way from disdaining a vintage ‘stang for its hue. The lady keeps her collection of Astons, Bugattis, Ferraris and Lamborghinis tucked away in five houses on a 14-acre estate in Palm Springs, Calif. Driving onto the property is like entering an oasis: steel sculptures and ponds dot verdant lawns dwarfed by desolate hills; Pond’s toy mutt, Enzo, wiggles through the cacti and rock.
I visited a couple times last month to see the cars and talk with Pond about her life. She proved the consummate hostess, taking hours to show the car collection, introducing me to various assistants and mechanics, and ordering in dinner late one night after a photo shoot. You get the sense she’s used to entertaining pilgrims who show up unannounced having followed the siren call of supercars deep into the California desert.
When she’s not at home in LA, Pond lives there with her grandmother, Jo, who along with late husband Robert raised Setorii since the age of two. (Jo herself has quite a presence. One evening on her way out to a charity ball she paused for photos wearing a red silk tuxedo and oversized gold-rimmed glasses, complete with a tiny sequined clutch shaped like Santa Claus.)
For years they scoured auctions and back lots buying cars and automotive art. Among their best finds: a 1948 Tucker, a 1951 Delahaye 135M, the 1931 Rolls-Royce Phantom from the movie Sunset Boulevard. Robert taught Pond how to drive even the meanest of the lot, like the Vector W8 she takes to movie premiers; she will occasionally flex her automotive muscle at amateur track days nearby.
Yes, gentlemen, she’s single. But a word to the wise: Those who can’t drive a stick need not apply—and she sees plenty in Gallardos and 599s struggling down Hollywood Boulevard. “It’s a big turn-off if he can’t drive,” Pond says.
The considerable monetary and logistical effort required to drive and maintain such a collection has become Pond’s homage to Robert, with whom she was exceptionally close. He believed cars should be driven rather than coveted, she says–and she intends to further that view through car-related fashion and charity work this year, regardless of the (inevitably mechanical and aesthetic) consequences.
“You can’t not get your hands dirty,” Pond says. “I’ll have something like the Palm Springs Film Festival or a gala, and I’m literally sitting there in a couture gown cranking the hood and people are looking at me funny. But that’s the fun of it.”
It’s also why she has developed the coffee table book, which will feature models astride her cars wearing Setorii clothing (dresses: $450 to $1,500). She calls the looks therein more high fashion than hot rod.
“It’s a cross between a European Vogue where it’s a little cheeky but mixed with a Pirelli calendar where it’s a little bit racy but very classy,” she says. The difference is in the details. “It’s all about having the right model, the right photographer and knowing how to pose her. And the lighting, as they say, changes the shot.”
Pond would know. She began modeling as a teenager, then worked as an art director, stylist, producer, editor and designer. She has also learned plenty about the business of creating a self-styled brand: The fashion line has no outside backers, and Robert’s death forced her to learn proper asset management in dealing with a third-party trust. His collection of old war planes has presented another challenge in the nuances of distributing a considerable estate.
As for the cars, well, she’s pretty attached. They come in all too handy for photo shoots, parties and cruising–though Pond reserves a white Cadillac for running errands around LA.
“I try to stay very low-key when I’m there,” she says.
As if she could.
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