The Spirit of Ecstasy, Rolls-Royce’s iconic mascot and hood ornament, was redesigned in 2022 for the marque’s upcoming all-electric Spectre. The most aerodynamic Rolls-Royce ever needed the most aerodynamic Spirit of Ecstasy as well. To celebrate the unveiling of the redesigned mascot in style, Rolls-Royce took her for a photo shoot in the historic setting of the AlUla region of Saudi Arabia, while perched on a Phantom Series II.
The earliest Rolls-Royce motorcars did not feature any radiator mascots, just the Rolls-Royce “RR” emblem. The Spirit of Ecstasy was first registered as an intellectual property of the marque on February 6, 1911. The origin story of the Spirit of Ecstasy, also known as Silver Lady or Flying Lady, is a combination of automotive myth and recorded fact.
By 1910, it had become fashionable among elite motorists to commission bespoke miniature sculptures as hood ornaments. Claude Johnson, the managing director of Rolls-Royce at the time, was tasked with commissioning a graceful mascot that would adorn the hoods of all future Rolls-Royce cars. Johnson called on illustrator and sculptor Charles Robinson Sykes, a graduate of London’s Royal College of Art, with the brief that the new mascot should convey “the spirit of Rolls-Royce” – graceful and silent performance.
The Spirit of Ecstasy has changed with the passage of time. At various points in her long life, she has adopted different stances, sometimes stood slightly taller or shorter, and allowed the wind to sculpt her flowing garments in subtly altered forms. However, she celebrates her anniversary in her most streamlined and athletic guise. As a result of the Spectre redesign, according to Rolls-Royce, the Spirit of Ecstasy more closely resembles the original drawings made in 1911 by Charles Sykes than she’s ever done.
To honour the latest iteration of the most prestigious and recognisable automotive mascot, Rolls-Royce took her for a drive, perched atop the hood of the marque’s recently unveiled flagship. The Phantom Series II, in Gunmetal and Tempest Grey, was photographed while gracefully gliding across AlUla, the living museum of human history that dates back to 200,000 years.