Rolls-Royce Syntopia — Textile Ambition

Textile Ambition



The idea of a bespoke Rolls-Royce will not immediately come across as revolutionary… because every Rolls-Royce in its essence is bespoke.

Image Courtesy Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

The plethora of options, finishes — and now even models — means that trying to replicate another Rolls-Royce in its entirety would be a near impossible task. Your choice of thread on the indicator stalk casing is all it takes to differentiate between commissions.

That said, within this intimate world of bespoke, some requests are more bespoke than others; things that quite simply have never been done before, let alone in a Rolls-Royce. Take for example the latest and most extraordinary Rolls-Royce Phantom commission – Syntopia; a bespoke client request created in collaboration with Dutch fashion designer and Couturière Iris van Herpen.

Anyone familiar with the ethereal work of Iris van Herpen in the world of fashion will have no question about the beautiful intricacy of her work, but this is a new type of collaboration, unknown ground, one not attempted before by either party.

“It felt really special to be able bring in our Haute-Couture craft into a car because it’s so unusual and never been done before. There was the 3-dimensional aspect of the craftsmanship I really wanted to bring in; quite a challenge, but it worked out.”


_Iris van Herpen, Fashion Designer + Couturière


Image Courtesy Rolls-Royce Motor Cars
Image Courtesy Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

The resulting project is the most technically complex bespoke Phantom ever to be made, taking over four years to complete. To give some context, the iridescent paintwork alone took over 3000 hours to perfect; just one of many innovative firsts in this vehicle.

Dubbed Syntopia after the 2018 Iris van Herpen’s landmark fashion collection, the art is inspired by nature, using biomimicry as its chosen expression.

Image Courtesy Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

Last month I joined Iris and her team at the Home of Rolls-Royce in Goodwood Chichester, as Syntopia was unveiled for the first time to the public eye. The designer’s manner is floral in its delicacy, but when she speaks her words exude a soft strength — something that her craft too embodies.

Looking over Syntopia, the design touches added to the monolithic silhouette and the extended Phantom’s gratuitous spaces bring an organic softness; a clear example of the biomimicry for which the studio is famed.

The specially developed layered one-off Liquid Noir paint travels through the ranges of purple, magenta, blue and gold as you gaze over its elongated silhouette, with the showpiece in that respect leading your eyes to the bonnet — a subtle wave pattern hidden in plain sight.

Iris van Herpen will also design a one—off Haute Couture garment to mirror the style of the Phantom Syntopia.

Image Courtesy Rolls-Royce Motor Cars


Image Courtesy Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

Much like Iris herself, these designs whisper, inviting closer inspection rather than shouting from a distance. A great example is the Weaving Water Starlight Headliner, which was the most technically complex headliner ever made in a Rolls-Royce— “complex” being a consistent theme throughout the Syntopia’s naissance. Over 1000 hides were needed to find the one suitably perfect, flawless single sheet, the one fit to inlay a new intricate fibre optic light pattern within. A symphonic partnership throughout, 162 glass organza petals were applied to the headliner by members of Iris van Herpen’s Couture team — a process that itself took almost 300 hours to complete.

Whether it’s in the 3D Phantom Gallery, the black-on-black textured picnic tables, or even on the bonnet of Syntopia itself, this Weaving Water theme is a constant throughout, flowing from surface to surface, represented in disparate yet connected ways.

It is also the first ever Rolls-Royce to come with a bespoke scent; a fragrance created using ingredients sourced from the client’s home region and diffused via a newly-developed patented scent-releasing mechanism incorporated into the rear headrests. This feature alone was tested over a period of 2 years, to ensure performance in both extreme hot and cold temperatures.

The incredible accomplishment in artistry and design aside, the resonance for Syntopia will be far and wide, with the use of fabric in seating developed to a level of comfort and durability that other Rolls-Royce patrons will no doubt want to experience.

Not to speak of the extended canvas and remit for creativity that fabric brings, for which the textile ramifications are almost endless. Think multi-layered patterns, symphonic weaves and unusual threads.

Image Courtesy Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

While you’d think affordability might be a problem for most potential Rolls-Royce owners, with true bespoke commissions the greatest cost is patience; the more bespoke the design, the more time it takes. Syntopia shows that curated thoughtfully, that price is certainly one worth paying.

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