In December, a Stockholm-based entrepreneur with a passion for flowers commissioned the bespoke team at Rolls-Royce to create a very special Phantom for his family, one that would immerse driver and passengers in a floral world. The result is the Rose Phantom, an immersive flower-themed motor car, created with a million embroidered stitches.
“It’s a stunning iteration of a contemporary Rolls-Royce,” says chief executive Torsten Müller Ötvös. “Our extraordinary craftspeople at the Home of Rolls-Royce have achieved something which can only be described as sublime.” He notes that it takes great skills to make something like this happen, something not every luxury maker is capable of. “This is undoubtedly one of the greatest Rolls-Royce Phantoms of its generation.”
As the world of high luxury evolves, defining its place in the world where the term is in danger of losing all meaning, brands like Rolls-Royce are moving ever closer to working directly with their customers to deliver individual products. Last year saw historic annual sales record for the marque, with a total of 5,152 cars delivered to customers in over 50 countries around the world, an increase of 25% on the previous year. In 2019, the Bespoke Collective also created more tailored products than ever before in the marque’s 116-year history.
There were some highly imaginative and artistic interpretations. For instance, for the Rose Phantom, bespoke designer Ieuan Hatherall took inspiration from the marque’s rose garden in the courtyard of the Goodwood facility in West Sussex, the picturesque region in the south of England. This is the only place in the world that the rare Phantom Rose is grown, bred exclusively for the marque by the breeder Philip Harkness of Harkness Roses. “There is a transcendent beauty when a rose garden is in full bloom,” says Hatherall. “The patron wanted to create that same feeling of awe; an abundance of flowers to lift the spirit and celebrate nature’s decadent beauty, in the Rose Phantom’s serene interior.”
So, the Peacock Blue exterior is punctuated with a Charles Blue twinned coachline that intertwines like the stem of a plant to form the rose motif. The wheels echo the design and are embellished with a blue twinned pinstripe, plus the embroidery extends to the rear coach doors. The Phantom Rose is illustrated in varying stages of its maturity – from bud to full bloom in an asymmetrical design that appears to grow across the roof lining, from the rear of the car. The car’s starlight headliner – a feature on the Phantom – illuminates the scene as the roses are interspersed with individually placed fiber-optic lights.
The Gallery, a novel concept introduced with the new Phantom, sees stems of embroidered roses climb through the glass fronted fascia. “I wanted to have flowers and roses everywhere. It became an amazing piece of art,” says the commissioner, who also involved his family with his wife designing the umbrellas and his daughter choosing the exterior hue.
Elsewhere, Rolls-Royce paid tribute to the sea, drawing inspiration from yachts and speedboats in technicality and materials for the Bayside Dawn Aero Cowling. Commissioned by a customer in Yokohama, Japan, this maritime-themed motor car has an open-pore teak paneling reminiscent of a yacht’s deck, pared with advanced technical fiber. The rear deck exterior paint and interior leather colors evoke the blue of the sea and white sails of Yokohama Bay.
The Digital Soul Phantom is another fun study – a fusion of handcraft and digital design. A highlight of this white with smokey quartz two-tone vehicle is another Gallery created by product designer Thorsten Franck. Individual characteristics are interpreted by an algorithm which translates the data into a swathe of 3D-printed stainless steel and hand-polished and plated in 24-carat gold. Elsewhere gold detailing embellishes the interior, with inlays set by hand in smoked eucalyptus wood and gold-plated speaker grilles.
There are numerous other artistic products but I’ll end with the Ghost Zenith collection, which closed the curtain on ten years of this mid-size car, one that was so instrumental in the marque’s success in introducing younger customers to the brand. The 50 cars draw references from 200EX, the experimental car that introduced the contemporary expression of the nameplate in 2009. Engraved on the center console of Ghost Zenith is an artwork divided into 50 distinct parts of the concept car. A commemorative ingot, made from the original 200EX Spirit of Ecstasy, has also been set into the center console, while the Spirit of Ecstasy and clock are engraved with the Zenith name.
“These motor cars become unique works of art and it is an extraordinary feat when you consider that each and every single one of these unique commissions has been created on one production line at Goodwood,” says Müller-Ötvös. “The skills of these individuals knows no bounds.”