While most of the car industry was left reeling from a tough 2020, the top end of town saw an unexpected uptick in business, as well-heeled customers exchanged travel for toys.
For example, almost every Rolls-Royce vehicle commissioned in 2020 was tailored by the luxury carmaker’s Bespoke Collective, with restless clients looking for a way to express themselves while locked down in their penthouses and mansions.
According to the Bespoke Collective designers, the pandemic also saw the inspiration for design shift from the usual themes surrounding travel and its associated grandeur to rich and textural surroundings of home, architecture and nature.
Here are just some of the examples of Rolls-Royce vehicles commissioned around the world, with the client’s personal touches conveyed via the Bespoke Collective's own skilled designers, craftsmen, artists and engineers.
You can view more images in the gallery at the top of the page, and tell us what you think of them down below.
Phantom ‘Iridescent Opulence’
The Rolls-Royce Phantom's hermetically sealed gallery (Rolls-Royce speak for cabin) makes it possible to incorporate natural materials in a way never before possible in a car, according to the company.
Created in partnership with Swiss materials specialist Nature Squared, ‘Iridescent Opulence’ includes more than 3000 sustainably sourced iridescent tail feathers, each "shaped individually to accentuate their sheen and rich hue and hand-sewn onto an open pore fabric".
Our verdict: pretty, but what happened to the poor birds?
Dusk in Tokyo
One well-heeled Japanese buyer didn’t know which Roller to choose, so they had a Phantom, Wraith, Dawn and Cullinan styled to create the ‘Dusk in Tokyo Collection’ (main picture), which celebrates the country's bustling capital.
The customised refractive white paint contained aluminium and mica flakes to creates subtle tones in low light, and was added to characterise the coastal metropolis’ high-rise glass and concrete buildings bathed in the warm light of early dusk.
Inside, the Black Leather interior, punctuated by Rose Gold Bespoke Audio grilles - and on the Phantom, the fascia’s Rose Gold clock case - depicts the contrast of long, dark shadows of the city’s tall buildings with the setting sun on glass.
The Spirit of Ecstasy, finished in Rose Gold for the first time ever in Japan, also represents the setting of the sun.
Our verdict: Well, if you're going to one, you may as well do three...
The Steed Phantom Extended
Complex embroideries of a stallion embellish the interior rear doors of this elegant Phantom Extended.
Signifying strength and an unremitting enthusiasm to progress, the embroidery of the steed was developed from a sketch sent to the Rolls-Royce Bespoke Design Collective by the Chinese client.
Our verdict: Neeeeiiiggghhh!
‘Neon Nights’ Colour Trilogy
The Bespoke Collective developed a new and dynamic colour palette, named ‘Neon Nights’, in a limited run of just four of each colour.
The three brightly coloured hues are each inspired by the natural world and consisted of Lime Rock Green, a near-luminous hue naturally found on the Australian green tree frog; Eagle Rock Red, which mimics the flowers of ‘Ōhi‘a lehua (an evergreen tree native to Hawaii); and Mirabeau Blue, which takes inspiration from a Central and South American butterfly, the rhetus periander.
Our verdict: surprisingly subtle and kind of cool
Wraith ‘Inspired By Earth’
This takes its design cues from the entire solar system, and our own planet, as seen from space.
The Royal Blue exterior references water while an air-brushed bonnet depicts a satellite view of the Middle Eastern region centred on the United Arab Emirates.
A hand-painted Emerald Green coachline (pinstripe, in fancy parlance) incorporates the Sun and the eight planets of the Solar System.
Inside, the seats are made from Moccasin leather to mimic the sands of the Emirates’ deserts, with accents suggested of rivers, lakes and nature in general. The fascia is embellished with an air-brushed satellite image of the Middle East (pictured).
Returning to the solar system motif, the Starlight headliner is embroidered to illustrate all the planets centred on the Sun.
Our verdict: Out of this world, man
Ghost Illuminated Fascia
The innovative ‘Illuminated Fascia’ of the new Rolls-Royce Ghost debuted following two years and more than 10,000 hours of development by the Bespoke Collective.
There are 850 individual stars stitched into the headlining.
The fascia also features 152 LEDs and 90,000 laser-etched dots carefully carved into the surface of the dashboard.
The lights are colour-matched to the cabin’s clock and instrument dial lighting, and create a twinkling effect as the eyes move across the fascia.
Extensive engineering work and three layers of composite materials ensure the Illuminated Fascia is completely invisible while not operational.
Our verdict: an astonishing amount of work for an amazing result
The Mahlangu Phantom
The gallery in the Rolls-Royce Phantom presented a unique opportunity for a South African client to display a highly personal work of art from renowned artist, Dr Esther Mahlangu (pictured).
Dr Mahlangu was the first artist to create an artwork in this way and this motor car was named in her honour.
Our verdict: Now THIS is cool
Cullinan ‘Spirit Of Russia’ Collection
For the oligarch with everything, the Cullinan proved the perfect canvas for a series of four individual bespoke commissions dedicated to Russian mountains: Elbrus, Krasnaya Polyana, Golden Mountains and Klyuchevskaya Sopka.
The Iced Black Diamond, Iced Gunmetal Steel, Midnight Sapphire Blue and Premiere Silver exterior hues are inspired by frosty peaks and are complemented by darkened chrome exterior detailing.
Inside, a map of Russia is depicted on the Starlight headliner while mountain peaks are embroidered on the headrests.
The engraved sill plates of each car bear an inscription naming the mountain region that inspired its design, as well as the height of the highest peak in each region.
Verdict: Oh yes, sir, we really love it!
A Collection of two Black Badge Dawns and nine Black Badge Wraiths were commissioned for the United Arab Emirates.
In a first for Rolls-Royce, the interior features a technical fibre fascia that has been intertwined with a coloured weave to match the vibrant exterior colour combinations.
Verdict: Looks like a specials pack to us...
Arctic White And Hotspur Red Phantom
Commissioned by a Texan Rolls-Royce collector, this contemporary Phantom is finished in Arctic White with a double pinstripe in Hotspur Red, indicative of the bold interior.
Indeed, every surface, from the lambswool floor mats, privacy curtains to even the luggage compartment is finished in Hotspur Red which, who guessed it, is a bespoke colour.
Verdict: Old school, but very cool