Rolls-Royce presents Haute Couture-inspired masterpiece created in collaboration with innovative fashion designer and Couturière Iris van Herpen
Rolls-Royce Motor Cars today unveils Phantom Syntopia, an intricate, Haute Couture-inspired masterpiece created in collaboration with renowned Dutch fashion designer and Haute Couturière Iris van Herpen. Based on Phantom Extended – the ultimate blank canvas for personalisation – it is the most technically complex commission ever undertaken by the Rolls-Royce Bespoke Collective. Now, after four years of continuous development, this extraordinary and unique creation is complete; it will soon take its place in the private collection of discerning patrons of the brand.
Phantom Syntopia takes its name from Iris van Herpen’s landmark 2018 collection, designed on the principles of biomimicry in which art is inspired by patterns and shapes found in nature. Like the collection, which comprises a series of highly sculptural garments brought to life through movement, Phantom Syntopia seeks to represent the elusive, ethereal beauty of fluid motion in solid materials through its ‘Weaving Water’ theme.
“From the very beginning, this truly was a meeting of minds: two luxury houses that share the innovative vision and ambition to transcend the boundaries of luxury design,” says Gavin Hartley, Head of Bespoke Design, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars. “Together, we further explored the potential of Phantom as a perfect canvas for individualisation. Phantom Syntopia literally takes Rolls‑Royce interior design into a new dimension with its immersive, sculptural elements, reinterpreting the elusive fragility of nature’s forms in a perfectly engineered reality.”
EXTERIOR COACHWORK: IRIDESCENT MAGNETISM
To create the stunning, shimmering exterior, the Rolls-Royce Bespoke Collective developed a one-off Liquid Noir paint. Iridescent in sunlight, it reveals Purple, Blue, Magenta and Gold undertones when viewed at different angles. To achieve this effect, the marque’s darkest solid-black paint is overlaid with a finish incorporating a mirror-like pigment, selected for its colour-shifting properties. To add a subtle, elegant shimmer, the team developed a brand-new technique for applying pigment to the clearcoat – a process that took several months, including over 3,000 hours of testing and validation alone.
On closer inspection, the motor car’s bonnet is seen to feature a subtle rendering of the Weaving Water motif that appears throughout the interior, produced by carefully redistributing the pigment during the finishing process.
INTERIOR SUITE: THREE-DIMENTIONAL ART
Phantom Syntopia’s interior suite incorporates magnificent features which were co-created in a creative and technical meeting of minds by the Rolls-Royce Bespoke Collective and Iris van Herpen. Some interior elements were handcrafted at the Home of Rolls-Royce by the company’s leading craftspeople working alongside members of Iris van Herpen’s team, while others were created in Iris van Herpen’s Amsterdam atelier, alongside her Haute Couture garments.
On opening the magnificent coach doors, the eye is immediately drawn to the Weaving Water Starlight Headliner, the most technically challenging version of this signature Rolls-Royce feature ever produced. It was crafted using a single sheet of flawless leather, selected from over 1,000 hides. Precise symmetrical cuts reveal a silver ‘liquid metal’ texture made from woven nylon fabric underneath, used in Iris van Herpen’s ‘Embossed Sounds’ collection, giving the Headliner a three-dimensional appearance. It is finished with 162 delicate petals made of glass organza, applied by members of Iris van Herpen’s Couture team who travelled to Goodwood to undertake the work – a process that took nearly 300 hours. In addition, 187 of the 995 sparkling fiberoptic ‘stars’ were individually placed by hand alongside the artwork; illuminating sequentially, starting from the rear and moving to the front, they create a feeling of movement. In total, the entire Headliner alone involved almost 700 collective hours of work.
The ‘Weaving Water’ theme continues throughout the unique artwork in the Gallery, which runs the width of the Phantom’s fascia. Combining traditional Haute Couture techniques and innovative visual forms, this highly expressive work includes a further 85 petals, which were also attached by hand by Iris van Herpen’s team working at Goodwood, representing almost 60 hours’ painstaking work.
The design to be found on the picnic tables and the passenger panel just below the Gallery mirrors the Weaving Water artwork on the bonnet. The motif was achieved by combining multiple coats of paint and lacquer containing different quantities of glass particles. First, the surfaces were covered with a black paint mixed with 0.9% glass particles. Then the artisans applied the Weaving Water motif with a clear coat mixed with 1.4% of shimmer – an extraordinarily complex process that took over three weeks to complete. Before commencing the work, the Exterior Surface Centre team had spent four months perfecting the formula, running nine trials before identifying the ideal proportion of glass particles: across the entire car, precisely one tablespoon has been used.
NEXT CHAPTER IN TEXTILE EXPLORATION
Phantom Syntopia continues the Bespoke Collective’s exploration of textiles. In homage to Rolls-Royce’s heritage, this unique motor car recalls an era where a driver’s seat was trimmed in hardwearing leather and the rear compartment in luxurious, inviting fabrics. The front seats of Phantom Syntopia are finished in Magic Grey leather, distinguished by its lustrous finish. The rear seats are upholstered with a specially created silk-blend fabric, featuring a distinctive pattern which recalls the patterns cast by light reflecting on water at night.
The seats are quilted with a Weaving Water motif, inspired by a tufting technique often employed in fine furniture-making in which embroidery is applied to the reverse side of the textile. This creates a three-dimensional depth while achieving a smooth, seamless, uninterrupted surface.
“The result of four years’ continuous development, Phantom Syntopia is a magnificent testament to the skill, talent, passion for materials and commitment to excellence of our exceptional Bespoke Collective team,” says Jonathan Simms, General Manager, Bespoke, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars. “To bring the client’s vision to life, our engineers and craftspeople pushed their own limits and challenged existing notions of what’s possible in their pursuit of perfection. Phantom Syntopia is the most technically complex commission we have ever created and it was an exceptional experience to work alongside and collaborate with the incredible team at Iris van Herpen’s atelier.”
AN IMMERSIVE EXPERIENCE: STIMULATING ALL SENSES
In keeping with the highly innovative approach taken with Phantom Syntopia, it is the first Rolls-Royce motor car to incorporate a Bespoke scent, creating a truly immersive expression of luxury. It was developed by an expert perfumer – now affectionately known as ‘the Nose of the Bespoke Collective’ – in close collaboration with the clients. Designed to create a lasting memory, the fragrance is subtle and perfectly complements other aromas arising from the materials used in the car.
The Bespoke fragrance expert tested numerous combinations before settling on the perfect blend. The core scent is cedarwood and as part of this project’s constant quest for the ultimate in personalisation, the cedarwood used was carefully sourced specially from the clients’ home region. The scent’s base combines powdery notes of Iris, obtained using a fluid extraction technology, with added hints of leather, finally blended with rose from Patagonia and a mild lemon.
The specially-developed scent-releasing mechanism is housed within the headrests. This patented technology, which incorporates innovative materials originally used in the field of medicine, ensures the fragrance is released in suitably delicate doses for a long-lasting, sophisticated sensory experience. The development process took more than two years, including rigorous testing in both very hot and very cold temperatures, to ensure the scent maintains its distinctive profile in all conditions.
PINNACLE LUXURY MEETS HAUTE COUTURE
For a truly Haute Couture experience, Iris van Herpen will design a one-off garment especially for the clients of this transformative commission. The sculptural design of the dress echoes the Weaving Water theme explored in Phantom Syntopia’s Starlight Headliner, featuring an elegant application of the ‘liquid metal’ fabric and the glass organza petals, laser-cut and hand-stitched in a pattern resembling undulating waves. This exquisite garment, reflective of Iris van Herpen’s newly developed Haute Couture techniques, is expected to take around six months of work, including pattern development, crafting and applying the petals, embroidery, fitting and tailoring.
Phantom Syntopia will take its place in the clients’ private collection in May. As a true one-of-one commission, Rolls-Royce has undertaken that it will never be replicated.