Phantom Syntopia is a one-off project codeveloped with designer Iris van Herpen. One of its exclusive features is a magnificent version of the famous roof stars
Everyone knows that Rolls-Royce is a powerhouse in terms of luxury cars. While Mercedes-Benz operates in many other segments and Bentley flirts with sportiness, their competitor leaves all those occupations to its parent company, BMW. That frees its time to work on marvels such as what has motivated this article.
In short, the Phantom Syntopia is a one-off project the automaker’s Bespoke division created along with Dutch designer Iris van Herpen. While such commissions have become usual, this one stands out because its main feature is a special version of the starlight headliner. We are going to explain you all about that.
Iris van Herpen
Based in Amsterdam, the haute couturière is widely lauded for its unique style. Van Herpen aims to blend her garments with human nature. Her ballet background provides a penchant for clothing that adapts to the body and works as an extension, encouraging the use of all senses and empowering the feminine self.
Since we are talking about nature, she goes further and applies the four essential elements into her work. Each item is custom-made so van Herpen can perfectly interpret each woman’s nature and craft clothing that embraces her nature. In fact, that feature made the connection with Rolls-Royce easy and natural.
The Dutch designer made its name in the fashion industry because of her interest in exploring nature and its “unbound forces”. Her search for inspiration goes beyond visual contemplation and studies elements such as cymatic patterns, magnetism, sound waves. Each piece is breathtaking from many points of view.
The Phantom Syntopia
A one-off customization project based on the Phantom Extended, which is the long-wheelbase version of Rolls-Royce flagship car. At a first glance, we can say that it features exclusive body paint, seat upholstery, dashboard trim, and even starlight headliner. However, there is much more to know about all those items.
Everything was concocted according to van Herpen’s philosophy. You can see organic forms flowing from one element to the other, delicate and elegant sparkle, and a clear undertone of feminine energy. The concept of “weaving water” guided the development process. The owner will receive their car in next May.
The custom body color goes by “Liquid Noir” and consumed 3,000 hours of testing and validation work. Inside, the rear seats use a silk blend whose pattern “recalls the patterns cast by light reflecting on water at night”. The automaker even created an exclusive scent for the car, which enters through the headrests.
Three-dimensional liquid metal
As the picture shows, this one-off piece uses a unique sheet of flawless leather chosen among a thousand others. There is a layer of van Herpen’s woven nylon underneath to make a “liquid metal” texture. You will also find 162 petals of glass organza and 995 fiberoptic stars applied through the artwork, some by hand.
Van Herpen’s team traveled to Goodwood so as to work together with Rolls-Royce’s team in the assembly of the project. The stars illuminate from the rear to the front to create a sense of movement. The starlight headliner alone used 700 hours of collective work, which helps explain that the whole car took four years.
Rolls-Royce dedicated such attention because the starlight headliner has become a signature attraction of its models. While the Phantom Syntopia features its “most technically challenging version” ever produced, there is a lot to learn about the regular product. That is the opportunity I saw with the release of this car.
The starlight headliner
The base sheet of leather is carefully perforated up to 1,600 times. Strands of fine fiberoptic lights are set between the leather and the sheetmetal. Rolls-Royce’s staff adjust the direction and height of each one to cause light to escape in different ways. The owner can adjust the overall brightness like in a lamp dimmer.
The idea came from an owner. Because of photophobia, he could only read his newspaper at night, under the starlight of his ranch. When he commissioned a Phantom, he requested it to imitate that ambiance. The solution had such favorable reception that the company asked for permission to use it on other cars.
Nowadays, the regular starlight headliner takes nine hours to complete. However, we are talking about an automaker that receives many commissions. Special cases require the creation of a new template, so their process can take almost twice as long. Owners have requested exclusive shapes and/or lighting patterns.
A nod to the past
Even back in 2007, the company could have surely used robots to build its starlight headliner. They would do the job faster and more precisely at once. However, this is not the goal here. Rolls-Royce takes pride in its coachbuilding history, which consists in applying the very best of human craftsmanship in many ways.
Rolls-Royce stands out in the luxury market because it aims to connect with each client. Bespoke projects emerge from interviews where the company understands the client’s background and personality besides their explicit wishes. The goal is to build a car that perfectly fits into their lifestyle and their aspirations.
It is easy to understand that the automaker refuses to divulge details of individual commissions. What we know is that there have been requests of constellations, the company’s logotype, and the owner’s coat of arms on the starlight headliner. And, more recently, the stunning artwork made for the Phantom Syntopia.
Rolls-Royce shows us the power of art. By combining history, skills and inspiration, it can turn elements as simple as fiberoptic lights into an object of fascination. As of now, Iris van Herpen has perfectly embodied that spirit in the Syntopia project. What could be richer and more inspiring than contemplating the stars?
- Phantom Syntopia: Rolls-Royce and Iris Van Herpen Collaborate on a Bespoke Masterpiece Inspired by Haute Couture – Rolls-Royce
- Rolls-Royce Phantom Syntopia Takes Haute Couture to Crazy Levels – Car and Driver
- Under the Stars – Rolls-Royce
- Where Rolls-Royce Got the Idea for the Starlight Headliner – The Hog Ring