Couture designer Iris van Herpen puts her touch on a custom Rolls-Royce Phantom, the Syntopia

March 11, 2023

Rolls-Royce Phantom Syntopia Iris van Herpen

The Haute Couture-inspired masterpiece is created by one of fashion's most innovative and celebrated designers, Iris van Herpen. The Phantom Syntopia is the most technically complex Bespoke Phantom ever made by Rolls-Royce.

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The two luxury houses' collaboration pushes the boundaries of innovation, craftsmanship, and the ultimate expression of luxury. The interior of the Phantom Syntopia features three-dimensional textile sculptures inspired by flowing water, a 'Weaving Water' Starlight Headliner – the most complex in Rolls-Royce history, a Gallery artwork handcrafted by Rolls-Royce specialists, and van Herpen's Amsterdam-based atelier. 

Iris van Herpen and the Rolls-Royce Phantom Syntopia
Iris van Herpen and the Rolls-Royce Phantom Syntopia

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 clients’ individual measurements, just like every Rolls-Royce. On many levels, this collaboration was a natural symbiosis.

Iris van Herpen
Phantom Syntopia
Phantom Syntopia
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In collaborating with internationally renowned designer Iris van Herpen, we once again redraw the boundaries of innovation, craftmanship and Bespoke possibility; not just for a motor car but across the wider luxury sector.”

Phantom Syntopia
Phantom Syntopia

The Inspiration

Based on Phantom Extended, the ultimate blank canvas for personalization, Syntopia is the most technically complex commission ever undertaken by the Rolls-Royce Bespoke Collective.

After four years of continuous development, this extraordinary and unique creation is complete; it will soon take place in the private collection of discerning brand patrons.

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 the patterns and shapes found in nature. Like the collection, 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. Together, we further explored the potential of Phantom as a perfect canvas for individualization. Phantom Syntopia 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: Indescent Magnetism

The Rolls-Royce Bespoke Collective developed a one-off Liquid Noir paint to create a stunning shimmering exterior. Iridescent in sunlight 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 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 3000 hours of testing and validation alone.

On closer inspection, the motor car's bonnet features a subtle rendering of the Weaving Water motif throughout the interior, produced by carefully redistributing the pigment during the finishing process.

Bespoke Details

Interior Suite: Three-Dimensional 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 Iris van Herpen's team members, while others were created in Iris van Herpen's Amsterdam atelier alongside her Haute Couture garments.

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Weaving Water Starlight Headliner

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 1000 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.

Rolls-Royce Phantom Syntopia
Rolls-Royce Phantom Syntopia

Fiberoptic Stars

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. 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 included 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.

The design on the picnic tables and the passenger panel just below the Gallery mirror 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 black paint and 0.9% glass particles.

Then the artisans applied the Weaving Water motif with a clear coat mixed with 1.4% 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: precisely one tablespoon has been used across the entire car.

The 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 that recalls the patterns cast by light reflecting on the 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 of continuous development, Phantom Syntopia is a magnificent testament to the skill, talent, passion for materials, and commitment to the excellence of our exceptional Bespoke Collective team.

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.

Iris van Herpen, Syntopia design sketch
Iris van Herpen, Syntopia design sketch

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.

Phantom Syntopia will be in the client's private collection in May. 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. A one-of-one commission, Rolls-Royce has undertaken that it will never be replicated.