Rolls-Royce redesigns Spirit of Ecstasy for its electric future

Image: Rolls Royce

Rolls-Royce has redesigned its legendary Spirit of Ecstasy mascot for its all-new Specter electric car. The move demonstrates the brand’s commitment to the future and its goal of becoming fully electric by 2030.

The graceful and iconic Spirit of Ecstacy officially became the intellectual property of Rolls-Royce 111 years ago on February 6, 1911. Over the decades, the Spirit of Ecstasy has undergone several design changes, but remains one of most recognizable symbols in the world.

In 2020, Rolls-Royce unveiled a new image of Pentagram where the Spirit of Ecstasy has been modernized into a silky shape that evokes movement. Today, the figurine is more refined and elegant than ever. Torsten Müller-Ötvös, chief executive of Rolls-Royce, said the Spirit of Ecstasy is “a constant source of inspiration and pride for the brand and its customers” and, together with Rolls-Royce, “has always evolved with its time while remaining true to its nature and character”.

When designing the figure’s new shape, Rolls-Royce designers consulted with Goodwood’s stylists for their take on every conceivable element, from “hair” and “clothing” to “expression”.

In the new design, according to design director Anders Warming, the Spirit of Ecstasy is “lower and more concentrated; prepared for unprecedented speed and an exciting future.” Originally, the figurine stood with its feet together, its legs straight and angled at the waist.

Now, the refined mascot leans forward with one foot forward, expressing the brand’s perpetual pursuit of progress. Her dress flutters in the wind around her – the image is compared to rolling Rolls-Royce products – and her body is tucked up with eager eyes gazing forward.

Rolls-Royce Spirit of Ecstasy Figure
Image: Rolls Royce
Rolls-Royce Spirit of Ecstasy figure
Image: Rolls Royce

The current design goes back to its roots and resembles the early sketches of its creator, Charles Sykes. Sykes was chief illustrator for Britain’s leading motoring magazine, The illustrated car, created by journalist and car enthusiast John Montagu. The beautifully crafted mascot was confirmed to have been modeled after Eleanor Thornton, the magazine’s office manager, and also the character from a love affair with Montagu.

In 1910, British car manufacturer Claude Johnson, then managing director of Rolls-Royce, commissioned Sykes to create a mascot that could improve their cars. Johnson, who was instrumental in the creation of Rolls-Royce and has described himself as the hyphen in the brand’s name, commissioned Sykes to produce an adornment similar to the marble sculpture “Nike of Samothrace” from the Louvre Palace.

During conceptualization, Sykes thought the Nike goddess of victory was too overbearing and believed a more dainty figure might better represent the brand’s “grace, silence, and subtle power.” Sykes was inspired by Eleanor Thornton, who was highly intelligent, famous for her beauty, and posed frequently for the illustrator. Sykes was also said to have created the Spirit of Ecstasy with her mother in mind, which resulted in her artistic vision of “the ideal of femininity”.

At the time, each figurine was personally hand cast, engraved and finished by Sykes himself. Sykes’ daughter took over in 1928 before the outbreak of war in 1939. Therefore, each figure from this period is slightly different from the next. Now the figurines are made by specialists in Southampton with a wax casting process – merging methods and materials from over 5,000 years ago with 21st century technology. Continuing the tradition of the human element brand, each figure will always be very different from each other.

Rolls-Royce Spirit of Ecstasy figure
Image: Rolls Royce

The Spirit of Ecstasy will appear on all future models. Meanwhile, the previous design will still be used on the Phantom, Ghost, Wraith, Dawn and Cullinan.

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