Rolls-Royces were never meant for anything as prosaic as merely commuting. These British epitomes of timeless luxury whisk you from A to B in the most sumptuous way imaginable — and, like the Rolex on your wrist or Hermès scarf on your shoulders, they let you mix where Rockefellers walk with sticks or umbrellas, as the song goes.
The brand has always been in vogue among luxury-car cognoscenti of a certain age, but in recent years it has become fashionable among younger clientele too, with the average age of a Rolls-Royce customer dropping from 56 to 43 over the past decade.
Rolls-Royce’s personalisation programme ensures no two vehicles leaving the Goodwood, UK, factory are identical, and from time to time the company creates even more special one-off rarities handmade to order. The latest of these is the Phantom Syntopia, a collaboration with Dutch fashion designer Iris van Herpen. Unveiled in March, it is the most technically complex commission yet undertaken by the automaker’s Bespoke division and took four years to develop for the unnamed client who commissioned it.
Featuring a weaving-water theme, the car comes with an iridescent “liquid noir” paint job that looks solid black at first but shows purple, blue, magenta, and gold undertones when viewed at different angles. The bonnet has a subtle rendering of the weaving-water motif. To achieve these effects, the company used a new technique in which pigment is added to the clear coat, a process that took several months and involved over 3 000 hours of testing and validation.
Inside, the wave design is repeated on the illuminated Starlight Headliner, the most technically challenging version of this signature Rolls-Royce feature yet produced, according to the British automaker. It uses 995 fibre optic elements in the ceiling to create a spine-like, three-dimensional look with a silver liquid-metal texture finished with 162 petals made from glass organza, a shiny fabric used in haute couture. The headliner took 700 hours to complete. The wave and petal themes are continued in the artwork in the “Gallery” display on the dashboard and the rear picnic tables. The front seats are covered in lustrous grey leather, with the rear seats upholstered in a specially created silk blend featuring a distinctive pattern inspired by light reflecting on water at night.
The Syntopia also gets its own unique scent. Subtly dispensed from the headrests, it is based on cedar wood from the client’s home region, with hints of iris, leather, rose, and lemon mixed in.
Every garment I create is a one-off, tailor-made to my clients’ individual measurements, just like every Rolls-Royce... On many levels, this collaboration was a natural symbiosis.
“Phantom Syntopia is the most ambitious, singular, and highly bespoke Phantom we have ever created, and a clear statement of Rolls-Royce’s standing as a true luxury house,” says Torsten Müller-Ötvös, CEO of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars.
“Building on two decades of joint undertakings with the world’s most celebrated design houses, artists, horologists, and jewellers, Phantom Syntopia secures Phantom’s standing as the ultimate blank canvas for bespoke personalisation.”
Van Herpen says that when she first encountered the Bespoke Collective, she found a world very similar to that of haute couture. “Every garment I create is a one-off, tailor-made to my clients’ individual measurements, just like every Rolls-Royce. My clients come to our atelier in Amsterdam for fittings, just as Rolls-Royce clients are invited to Goodwood throughout the design and craft process. On many levels, this collaboration was a natural symbiosis.” As part of the commission, Van Herpen will design a one-off garment for the client echoing the weaving-water theme.
• From the April edition of Wanted, 2023.