What do you get for the man or woman who has everything?
You might want to start by asking Richard Collar. He’s the director of sales and marketing for the Rolls-Royce Bespoke program and every day he and his team develop custom for some of the wealthiest, most successful and discerning consumers in the world. From captains of industry to heads of state, movie stars, musicians and other luminaries, the Rolls-Royce Bespoke team is charged with making the dreams come true for people who’ve already achieved success beyond their wildest dreams.
We were invited to find out more about Rolls-Royce Bespoke program recently at the New York International Auto Show where we sat down with Mr. Collar, covering everything from an overview of the program to some specific projects and even a glimpse into the future of Rolls-Royce Bespoke.
The term Bespoke is fast becoming the most overused word in the world of luxury marketing. Right up there with “artisan” and “quality,” bespoke a word that is in danger of being rendered meaningless thanks to the liberties taken with its meaning. Just so we’re clear – bespoke means, “custom-made, made to fit an individual person.” It does not mean, fancy, luxurious or exclusive. That being said, Rolls-Royce understands its meaning and is still committed to true bespoke products. This effort is paying off as a record number of Rolls-Royce motorcars were customized in some fashion for specific customers last year.
When a customer comes to Goodwood to order their Bespoke Roller, they are invited into a lounge filled with images, materials and other elements of inspiration for their car. There, the customer sits with a team of designers who will work on the car, from color experts to experienced leather-smiths and master woodworkers. Each works with the customer to help bring their vision to life by adding ideas or demonstrating techniques. As Mr. Collar explained, the team’s goal is to strive for perfection in everything they do.
Exterior paint is one of the most common ways Rolls-Royce buyers customize their cars. On one recent project, a woman purchasing her first Wraith was looking to have her car in the color of her favorite pair of pale pink leather gloves. Projects like that are relatively easy for the team and her car was delivered in precisely the color she desired in a matter of months. The Bespoke paint artists also incorporate custom flourishes with pin striping and other design details created to order.
Bespoke leatherwork is also fairly common. In addition to dying the leather any color you desire, the single most popular customization is stitching the owners initials, a meaningful symbol or corporate logo into the headrest and other areas in the interior.
Custom woodwork often plays an important part of a bespoke project, but a few months ago, they received a most unusual request. A long-time Rolls-Royce customer was looking to have a new car built for him but didn’t want the interior made from just any wood. He wanted his car’s interior trim to be made from a favorite tree that had recently fallen on his estate. After having a sample inspected by a Rolls-Royce craftsman, the wood was deemed acceptable and now his tree will live forever in the dash and door panels of his Bespoke car.
And of course, the Bespoke craftsmen will design and install a starry night headliner with up to 10,000 LED lights in any pattern. They have created everything from the night sky as it would have been seen from the location an owner was born on the day he was born to zodiac related options.
In addition to customizing a car’s exterior or interior, the Bespoke team also works on some very intriguing functional requests. Using a blend of high design and masterful engineering, the team designed and installed a champagne cooler and protective compartment for the crystal stemware in the trunk of a Phantom. In addition they created a Bespoke picnic basket, complete with custom china, silver and glassware based on the owners request.
As for the future, Mr. Collar said they’re looking at other bespoke industries – fashion, furniture making, yacht builders – for inspiration and hope to work with more non-traditional materials on future projects. All it’s going to take is an owner who has a bold vision and a bank account to match.