While mass-produced cars usually come with various option boxes to tick, allowing customers to specify extra-cost features that suit their needs and budgets, it’s only a lucky few who get to design the bespoke car of their dreams. Rolls-Royces are handmade to order so that no two cars are alike, and a recent collaboration between the British carmaker and French luxury-goods manufacturer Hermès gives a glimpse behind the velvet rope. While, mechanically, things stay the same (and who would want to change anything about that silky but steroidal twin-turbo, 6.75-litre V12?), it allows us to see how customers of the Phantom luxury sedan can get involved in creating a motorised objet d’art.
Handcrafted at the Home of Rolls-Royce at Goodwood, UK, and Hermès in Paris, the Rolls-Royce Phantom Oribe was commissioned by Japanese entrepreneur Yusaku Maezawa. The billionaire envisioned the car as a “land jet” that would bring the serene exclusivity of private air travel to the road.
The Phantom’s striking two-tone exterior matches the characteristic green-and-cream glazes of antique Japanese Oribe ware, of which Maezawa is a collector. The upper part is finished in Oribe Green, a bespoke colour created exclusively for the client; and, as a bonus, RollsRoyce has made the paint available for use on the client’s private jet too.
Developing Oribe Green took several months, to capture the lustrous, deep-green glaze that characterises these 16th-century ceramics. The colour is offset by a cream-white lower section in the dual-tone Phantom. The Oribe-ware-inspired colourway continues through the interior which is finished predominantly in Hermès Enea Green leather, including the steering wheel, duchess handles, gear selector, and the rotary controls for the climate settings.
The Hermès leather also covers the decanter stowage compartment and champagne cooler, and the glove-compartment lid is embossed with the signature Habillé par Hermès Paris. Delicate Hermès piping adorns the headrest cushions and calf supports of the rear seats, while soft Seashell White accents and matching lambswool floor mats create a sense of light and space throughout.
Hermès brings its distinctive equestrian heritage with leather stitching and edge-painting techniques originally employed by master saddlers. Rolls-Royce design touches in the opulent cabin include wooden speaker frets with open-pore royal walnut veneer. The same luxury-wood finish is applied to the centre and rear consoles and picnic-table backs.
The Gallery is a unique Phantom feature that allows owners to personalise works of art on the dash fascia behind a sheet of glass. It’s a focal point for the interior of the Phantom, and artists who have contributed their unique styles include Dr Esther Mahlangu, the globally celebrated South African artist, who created a Gallery with a vibrant geometric Ndebele design. For the Phantom Oribe’s Gallery, Hermès commissioned an artwork based on a design by the celebrated French artist Pierre Péron, who created many of the house’s iconic scarves. The work, inspired by the famous Hermès horse motif, is hand-painted on open-pore royal walnut.
“This majestic and tasteful RollsRoyce Phantom demonstrates what is possible when talented people from two of the world’s great houses work closely together alongside a far-sighted, inspirational client like Maezawa-san,” says Torsten Müller-Ötvös, CEO of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars.
“This unique Phantom is a fusion of East and West, ancient and modern, serenity and exhilaration. It was a great creative and cultural exchange working with Hermès; we learned a great deal from each other. It is always a pleasure when a client brings us a bold, clear and imaginative vision, and a great thrill to see it realised so perfectly,” says Michael Bryden, lead designer, Rolls-Royce Bespoke Collective.
• From the June edition of Wanted, 2021.