Automotive

Exploring bespoke luxury with Rolls-Royce

Exploring bespoke luxury with ...
The Rolls-Royce Phantom Zenith, number 35 of 50, on show at the company's Melbourne showroom
The Rolls-Royce Phantom Zenith, number 35 of 50, on show at the company's Melbourne showroom
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A look at the possibilities with stitching on Rolls-Royce headrests 
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A look at the possibilities with stitching on Rolls-Royce headrests 
Wood paneling is one of the ways you can customize the interior of your Rolls-Royce
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Wood paneling is one of the ways you can customize the interior of your Rolls-Royce
Rolls-Royce has dedicated part of its Melbourne showroom to bespoke designs 
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Rolls-Royce has dedicated part of its Melbourne showroom to bespoke designs 
Dashboard trim options abound at Rolls-Royce 
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Dashboard trim options abound at Rolls-Royce 
Rolls-Royce has a range of cars on show at its Melbourne showroom
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Rolls-Royce has a range of cars on show at its Melbourne showroom
The Rolls-Royce Phantom Zenith, number 35 of 50, on show at the company's Melbourne showroom
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The Rolls-Royce Phantom Zenith, number 35 of 50, on show at the company's Melbourne showroom
Two-tone finishes are a common choice among Rolls-Royce owners 
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Two-tone finishes are a common choice among Rolls-Royce owners 
No Rolls-Royce is complete without the Spirit of Ecstasy 
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No Rolls-Royce is complete without the Spirit of Ecstasy 
The hamper in the back of the Rolls-Royce Zenith 
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The hamper in the back of the Rolls-Royce Zenith 
Nothing combines better than champagne and driving in expensive cars
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Nothing combines better than champagne and driving in expensive cars
There were just 50 examples of the Phantom Zenith built 
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There were just 50 examples of the Phantom Zenith built 
A map of Goodwood on the end of the the door trim in the Phantom Zenith 
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A map of Goodwood on the end of the the door trim in the Phantom Zenith 
The Dawn Inspired by fashion on show in Melbourne
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The Dawn Inspired by fashion on show in Melbourne
The Dawn Inspired by fashion on show in Melbourne
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The Dawn Inspired by fashion on show in Melbourne
Rolls-Royce has taken inspiration from boats in the design of the Dawn cabin 
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Rolls-Royce has taken inspiration from boats in the design of the Dawn cabin 
Red is a theme throughout the Dawn Inspired by fashion
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Red is a theme throughout the Dawn Inspired by fashion
The lines along the side of the Dawn are hand-painted 
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The lines along the side of the Dawn are hand-painted 
Behind the wheel of the Dawn Inspired by fashion
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Behind the wheel of the Dawn Inspired by fashion
All Rolls-Royce cars come with an umbrella 
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All Rolls-Royce cars come with an umbrella 
The Rolls-Royce Ghost on show in Melbourne 
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The Rolls-Royce Ghost on show in Melbourne 
Rolls-Royce has a range of cars on show at its Melbourne showroom
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Rolls-Royce has a range of cars on show at its Melbourne showroom
The Rolls-Royce showroom in Melbourne has plenty of space for customers to sit, relax and discuss their major purchase
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The Rolls-Royce showroom in Melbourne has plenty of space for customers to sit, relax and discuss their major purchase
The new Rolls-Royce showroom on Swan St in Melbourne, Australia
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The new Rolls-Royce showroom on Swan St in Melbourne, Australia
The Dawn Inspired by fashion includes a pop of color you don't find elsewhere
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The Dawn Inspired by fashion includes a pop of color you don't find elsewhere
Michael Bryden, Lead Designer for Customer One-Offs
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Michael Bryden, Lead Designer for Customer One-Offs
A look at the possibilities with stitching on Rolls-Royce headrests 
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A look at the possibilities with stitching on Rolls-Royce headrests 
Wood paneling is one of the ways you can customize the interior of your Rolls-Royce
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Wood paneling is one of the ways you can customize the interior of your Rolls-Royce
Rolls-Royce has dedicated part of its Melbourne showroom to bespoke designs 
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Rolls-Royce has dedicated part of its Melbourne showroom to bespoke designs 
Dashboard trim options abound at Rolls-Royce 
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Dashboard trim options abound at Rolls-Royce 
Rolls-Royce has a range of cars on show at its Melbourne showroom
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Rolls-Royce has a range of cars on show at its Melbourne showroom
The Rolls-Royce Phantom Zenith, number 35 of 50, on show at the company's Melbourne showroom
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The Rolls-Royce Phantom Zenith, number 35 of 50, on show at the company's Melbourne showroom
Two-tone finishes are a common choice among Rolls-Royce owners 
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Two-tone finishes are a common choice among Rolls-Royce owners 
No Rolls-Royce is complete without the Spirit of Ecstasy 
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No Rolls-Royce is complete without the Spirit of Ecstasy 
The hamper in the back of the Rolls-Royce Zenith 
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The hamper in the back of the Rolls-Royce Zenith 
Nothing combines better than champagne and driving in expensive cars
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Nothing combines better than champagne and driving in expensive cars
There were just 50 examples of the Phantom Zenith built 
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There were just 50 examples of the Phantom Zenith built 
A map of Goodwood on the end of the the door trim in the Phantom Zenith 
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A map of Goodwood on the end of the the door trim in the Phantom Zenith 
The Dawn Inspired by fashion on show in Melbourne
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The Dawn Inspired by fashion on show in Melbourne
The Dawn Inspired by fashion on show in Melbourne
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The Dawn Inspired by fashion on show in Melbourne
Rolls-Royce has taken inspiration from boats in the design of the Dawn cabin 
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Rolls-Royce has taken inspiration from boats in the design of the Dawn cabin 
Red is a theme throughout the Dawn Inspired by fashion
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Red is a theme throughout the Dawn Inspired by fashion
The lines along the side of the Dawn are hand-painted 
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The lines along the side of the Dawn are hand-painted 
Behind the wheel of the Dawn Inspired by fashion
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Behind the wheel of the Dawn Inspired by fashion
All Rolls-Royce cars come with an umbrella 
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All Rolls-Royce cars come with an umbrella 
The Rolls-Royce Ghost on show in Melbourne 
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The Rolls-Royce Ghost on show in Melbourne 
Rolls-Royce has a range of cars on show at its Melbourne showroom
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Rolls-Royce has a range of cars on show at its Melbourne showroom
The Rolls-Royce showroom in Melbourne has plenty of space for customers to sit, relax and discuss their major purchase
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The Rolls-Royce showroom in Melbourne has plenty of space for customers to sit, relax and discuss their major purchase
The new Rolls-Royce showroom on Swan St in Melbourne, Australia
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The new Rolls-Royce showroom on Swan St in Melbourne, Australia
The Dawn Inspired by fashion includes a pop of color you don't find elsewhere
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The Dawn Inspired by fashion includes a pop of color you don't find elsewhere
Michael Bryden, Lead Designer for Customer One-Offs
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Michael Bryden, Lead Designer for Customer One-Offs

The luxury car world is all about bespoke at the moment. After all, who would pay more than half a million dollars on a car if someone else can walk in off the street and buy one exactly the same? And just what can be done with enough time, money and a good idea? We sat down with Michael Bryden, Lead Designer for Rolls-Royce Bespoke, to find out.

We've talked about this before, but the array of choices in modern luxury cars is dazzling. Beyond the standard spectrum of colors, trim materials and stitching types, customers are able to develop a finish specific to their car. Nothing is off the table, with the swatches on show at the new Rolls-Royce showroom on Swan St in Melbourne, Australia ranging from subtle blacks and blues, all the way to soft pinks and arresting oranges.

"Working with the paint is fascinating," says Michael Bryden. "There's an incredible level of effect we can now achieve on our paints. We've recently done a lot of development on surface finish area, so you can go beyond just a color. The Zenith car has glass in the clear coat so that it sparkles. From a distance it looks like a solid color, then when you see it close up and under some light it sparkles... [paint] is a great thing to work with, because you can really make the bodywork and coachwork stand out."

Nothing combines better than champagne and driving in expensive cars
Nothing combines better than champagne and driving in expensive cars

When Bryden mentions the Zenith, he's talking about one the special Phantoms created to celebrate the end of a 14 year production run. The car on show in Melbourne is number 35 of 50, and (among other special touches) includes the optional champagne picnic basket in the trunk. It also really does sparkle under showroom lights, but in a very different way to a regular metallic finish.

Paint isn't the only area open for customization, although it is one of the most common. The interior doesn't need to be trimmed in leather, it could be finished in silk or cloth, and the large design piece adorning the dashboard could be used to celebrate a love of music, or classic ships. Elaborate wood might not be to everyone's tastes, but if you've got enough cash the sky really is the limit when it comes to materials.

Personalizing a car from the ground up isn't the work of a moment. Although a surprising number of customers walk in off the street and "impulse buy" their Rolls, those who want something truly unique are willing to wait for it to be created. Given the personal nature of each project, and the staggering pricetag associated with any Roller, the company spends a lot of time getting to know its customers.

"We will sit personally with customers and work through their aspirations," Bryden explains. "We might spend 10 percent of the time with them talking about the actual car, and ninety percent talking about everything else – about their lifestyle, where they're going to use the car, what they like and what they don't like."

A map of Goodwood on the end of the the door trim in the Phantom Zenith 
A map of Goodwood on the end of the the door trim in the Phantom Zenith 

Having seen off the current Phantom with the Zenith, the designers responsible for bespoke Rolls-Royce creations have turned their attention to the new Phantom, set to launch later this year. Details about the Project Cullinan 4WD set to follow in 2019 are thin on the ground, but Bryden says his team has already started looking at ways to make individual cars stand out. We're looking forward to seeing them when they arrive.

In the meantime, have a stroll through our gallery to see some bespoke options, together with a few examples of Rolls-Royce finery.

Rolls-Royce Melbourne is located at 340 Swan St, Richmond. If you're into window shopping, there are few better places to stand and gawp at gorgeous British luxury limos.

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