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Spirit of Ecstasy redesigned for most aerodynamic Rolls-Royce ever

“The Spirit of Ecstasy is the most famous and desirable automotive mascot in
the world. More than just a symbol, she is the embodiment of our brand, and
a constant source of inspiration and pride for the marque and its clients.
Like our brand, she has always moved with the times while staying true to
her nature and character. In her new form she is more streamlined and
graceful than ever before – the perfect emblem for the most aerodynamic
Rolls-Royce ever created, and for gracing the prow of our bold electric
Torsten Müller-Ötvös, Chief Executive Officer, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

“111 years ago today, the Spirit of Ecstasy became an official part of
Rolls-Royce. Yet, she has come to represent a spiritual direction for our
brand. Her form perfectly captures the marque – she leans forward,
expressing our relentless pursuit of progress, and her dress gracefully
flows in the wind, echoing the serenity of our products in motion. For
Spectre and beyond, she becomes lower and more focussed; braced for
unprecedented speed and the exciting future her presence will define.”
Anders Warming, Director of Design, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

Rolls-Royce has reimagined its iconic Spirit of Ecstasy figurine to grace
the bonnet of its new all-electric motor car, Spectre, 111 years to the day
the Spirit of Ecstasy was first registered as intellectual property of
Rolls-Royce on 6th February 1911.

The figurine has been remodelled with a lower, more dynamic stance that
brings her much closer to the drawings made by her original creator, the
illustrator and sculptor Charles Sykes, in the early years of the 20th
century. It also sees her physical form represent The Expression, a visual
device that forms part of the marque’s new visual language.

The new Spirit of Ecstasy stands 82.73mm tall, compared to her predecessor’s
100.01mm. Her robes, which flow behind her in the slipstream – often but
erroneously characterised as ‘wings’ – have been subtly reshaped to make
them more aerodynamic and realistic.

The most visible change is her stance. Previously, she has stood with her
feet together, legs straight and tilting at the waist. Now, she is a true
goddess of speed, braced for the wind, one leg forward, body tucked low, her
eyes focused eagerly ahead. These changes have both practical and stylistic
benefits, contributing to Spectre’s remarkable aerodynamic properties. The
earliest Spectre prototypes have a drag coefficient (cd) of just 0.26,
making it the most aerodynamic Rolls-Royce ever created. The figure is
expected to improve during the product’s exhaustive testing protocols
undertaken in 2022.
This new expression captures the essence of Charles Sykes’ original
drawings, but rather than simply being ‘redrawn’ or ‘redesigned’, her new
shape has been digitally sculpted by a computer modeller working at the Home
of Rolls-Royce, who has a passion for life drawing and sculpture. Their
experience in this field was invaluable in developing the figurine’s elegant
lifelike facial features as well as her expression, which deftly combines
focus and serenity. The designers also consulted stylists at Goodwood for
their perspective on her hair, clothes, posture, and expression, adding an
authentically contemporary aura to her dynamism and commanding presence.

While all figurines are made using one of the oldest known casting
techniques, named ‘lost wax casting’ or ‘cire-perdue’, each is individually
finished by hand, so will be minutely different from figurine to figurine.
As well as continuing a long Rolls-Royce tradition – until 1939, the mascots
were made and polished by Charles Sykes himself – this subtle, ephemeral
human element creates an intriguing contrast to the precise, highly
engineered motor car she sits atop.

Though relatively rare in the modern era, changes to the Spirit of Ecstasy
have been made throughout her 111-year lifespan. She has been rendered in
various sizes and materials and, briefly, in a kneeling position. The new
version created for Spectre will appear on all future models: the current
design will still be used on Phantom, Ghost, Wraith, Dawn and Cullinan and
their Black Badge alter egos where applicable.

Simultaneously, Muse, the Rolls-Royce Art Programme, has announced the jury
for the Spirit of Ecstasy Challenge. This inaugural initiative invites the
brightest and boldest young creatives to reimagine the icon of the Spirit of
Ecstasy in a context beyond her current home on a Rolls-Royce motor car. In
doing so, these young artists will create high-concept pieces that surprise,
delight and inspire.

For each edition of this prestigious biennial event, a global panel of
expert judges will select a medium for the emerging designers from which to
create an artistic interpretation of the Spirit of Ecstasy. For this
edition, that medium is textiles. The esteemed jury members are: Anders
Warming, Director of Design, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars; Yoon Ahn, Creative
Director of Ambush and Jewellery Director at Dior Men; Tim Marlow, Director
and Chief Executive of the Design Museum in London; and Sumayya Vally,
Principal of South African architectural practice, Counterspace. Together,
they will select three finalists to participate in this extraordinary
artistic initiative.

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Sun. December 10th, 2023

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