Hijacked by marketing departments, the word “bespoke” has become so overused and misapplied by the luxury industry that its true meaning is dangerously close to being irrevocably diluted. Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, however, has been advancing the actual definition for 116 years, best evidenced by the new Phantom Syntopia, a collaboration with acclaimed fashion designer Iris van Herpen. Revealed today, the exquisite one-off is being touted as the “most technically complex bespoke model” made to date by the storied British marque.
“We have a good relationship with the designer Iris van Herpen and know what she is envisioning in the world of fashion,” says Anders Warming, Rolls-Royce’s design director, in a recent conversation with Robb Report. “We started a dialogue with her saying, ‘wouldn’t it be great to bring this client together with your vision, in our car.”
Warming described the creative experience as “three minds coming together” in what vacillated between “planned process” and “spontaneous event.” It was a balancing act to be sure. “We’re very conscious of what is a Rolls-Royce statement,” says Warming, “but, at the same time, [we] had to make sure that the dreams and aspirations of the client met with the dreams and aspirations of this incredible designer, Iris van Herpen.”
The singularity of this extended Phantom Series II is first apparent with its one-of-a-kind Liquid Noir colour scheme for the body, an opalescent-black paint treatment—with hints of purple, orange, magenta and blue—featuring a reflective-pigment application. That customization element alone took a reported 3,000 hours to perfect.
Yet the spectacle of the exterior tailoring is only the warmup act for the headliner inside—the actual headliner. “You have this impression of weaving water when you look up,” says Warming. “You’re basically watching a progression of shape; it’s the first time we’re bringing a true three-dimensional sculpture, in this case out of leather, to the Starlight Headliner.” To complement this, the hood of the car carries its own representation of the same stylistic element.
Within the cabin, the overhead installation is made from one piece of leather that is claimed to have been chosen out of more than 1,000 hides. The dimensionality is enhanced by numerous and carefully located slices revealing the nylon fabric that’s hand-stitched behind the hide. The headliner is also accented with 162 glass-organza petals. Each petal is paired with a fiber-optic light from among the total of 995 luminaries that comprise the heavenly effect. The elaborate ornamentation took approximately 300 hours to complete by hand, and was done by van Herpen’s own artisans after they had temporarily relocated to the automaker’s headquarters in Goodwood.
The same labour-intensive embellishments are found in the Gallery installation on the dash, which includes an 85-petal arrangement, while the rear-passenger tables and select surfaces of the cabin impress with glass-particle-laced lacquer.
“For this special collaboration, I was inspired by the concept of ‘Weaving Water’ and transformed the sense of being in movement into an immersive experience of fluidity inside the Phantom,” stated van Herpen in the official announcement. “The powerful movement of the Phantom is woven into the shifting three-dimensional waves inside the car to embody the ingenuity of nature.” The automotive artistry was born from van Herpen’s Syntopia fashion line from 2018, one that was heavily influenced by design elements of the outdoor environment.
The interior tells a carefully curated tactile story as well. “We see the use of textile as a fashion statement,” Warming says regarding Rolls-Royce’s increased use of fabric. “You don’t need to omit leather, but you can use leather as a contrast to textile.” Exemplifying this, the Syntopia’s front seats are dressed in hides coloured Magic Grey, while those in the back are draped in a custom silk blend intended to visually dance like the reflection of the moon on a sea or lake.
Adding to the Syntopia’s inner allure is a feature never before incorporated in a vehicle bearing the Spirit of Ecstasy, and that’s a designated scent developed for the car. The fragrance—ever-so-subtly diffused through the headrests—is evocative of cedarwood with hints of leather, rose, lemon and, fittingly, the Iris flower.
To complement the avant-garde vehicle, Iris van Herpen is designing a dress for the stateside owner that will be imbued with the same “Weaving Water” stylistic approach taken with the sartorial sedan. While the garment is projected to take six months to complete, delivery of the Phantom Syntopia will occur in May.
According to Martin Fritsches, president and CEO of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Americas, the Phantom Syntopia is not just a benchmark but a bellwether of the marque’s expanding client demographic. Fritsches tells Robb Report; “More than ever, we’re attracting a new customer base, a younger customer base, and they are also more creative and have a clear understanding of ultra-luxury. Because of that, they’re extremely demanding, which, in a healthy way, is putting pressure on us to come up with more creativity, which will ultimately create more value.” As for the Phantom Syntopia’s value, a seven-figure price is rumored to be what the car wears quite well.
Previously published on Robb Report.