“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. Building on two decades of joint undertakings with the world’s most celebrated design houses, artists, horologists and jewelers, Phantom Syntopia secures Phantom’s standing as the ultimate blank canvas for Bespoke personalization. In collaborating with internationally renowned designer and Haute Couturière Iris van Herpen, we once again redraw the boundaries of innovation, craftsmanship and Bespoke possibility; not just for a motor car but across the wider luxury sector.” – Torsten Müller-Ötvös, Chief Executive Officer, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars
Rolls-Royce Motor Cars has unveiled the Haute Couture-inspired Phantom Syntopia, created in collaboration with renowned Dutch fashion designer and Haute Couturière Iris van Herpen. Based on Phantom Extended, 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.
“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. I wanted this to become a state-of-the-art experience being overwhelmed by the forces of nature. The powerful movement of the Phantom is woven into the shifting three-dimensional waves inside the car to embody the ingenuity of nature. When I met the Bespoke Collective, I discovered that the world of Rolls-Royce is very similar to Haute Couture. Every garment I create is a one-off, tailor-made to my client’s 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.”
Iris van Herpen
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, solid-black paint is overlaid with a finish incorporating a mirror-like pigment, selected for its color-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 Phantom Syntopia’s hood features 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-DIMENSIONAL ART
Phantom Syntopia’s interior suite incorporates features that 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 Goodwood, United Kingdom 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 coach doors, the eye is immediately drawn to the most technically challenging version of this signature Rolls-Royce feature ever produced. It was crafted using a single sheet of 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 traveled 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, creating 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 dashboard. 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 of painstaking work.
Unique “Gallery” Artwork
The design to be found on the picnic tables and the passenger panel just below the Gallery mirrors the Weaving Water artwork on the hood. The motif was achieved by combining multiple coats of paint and lacquer containing different quantities of glass particles. Before work began, Rolls-Royce spent four months perfecting the formula.
NEXT CHAPTER IN TEXTILE EXPLORATION
Phantom Syntopia continues the Bespoke Collective’s exploration of textiles. In homage to Rolls-Royce’s heritage, Phantom Syntopia 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 that 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.
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 that will never be replicated.
Pursuitist automotive and lifestyle contributor Brian Armstead has been involved in print, radio, web and television for over 47 years. Brian has traveled to 79 countries. He is a North American Car, Truck and Utility of the Year (NACTOY) Juror.