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Inside Rolls-Royce – Alex Innes Interview

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With the recent airing of the “Inside Rolls-Royce” documentary on Channel 4, our love for a Rolls-Royce grew stronger. Filmed over a landmark six-month period, the documentary captured the dedication and passion that the Roll-Royce workforce puts in.

Alex Innes, Rolls-Royce Bespoke Designer was a key character of the show, and we caught up with him to discuss his work alongside style.

Favourite Rolls Royce of all time?

I admire the qualities of the Phantom II as it embodied a scale and proportion that was foreign to any of our cars that preceded it.  It is the car the can be credited, more than most, with shaping the presence and sense of occasion that has come to be revered in all Rolls-Royces. It was also the car that provided the canvas for the most prolific period of coach building, a time where design was leveraged to convey a customers self expression through the artisanal expertise of their chosen coach builder – progressing the brand from its engineering routes into a dawn of heightened opulence and sensitivity to design.

What’s been the favourite collaboration you’ve helped design?

I would class every customer commission as a collaboration; the relationship that we develop can be quite individual and the outcome is always very different. However, in terms of design and sheer uniqueness, I would say the Picnic Hamper. Although we’re not in the business of creating lifestyle accessories, we aim to enhance the ownership experience of a Rolls-Royce. The Picnic Hamper was a cherished opportunity to portray the design values of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars in something that was not a car, we drew a parallel by way of the materials and the effortless functionality…and of course a little indulgence. Obviously though my heart lies in designing cars.  Most recently I was involved in designing the Waterspeed Car, a collection of 35 Phantom Drophead Coupés created in celebration of Sir Malcolm Campbell’s Waterspeed record set in 1937. 

Explain the thought process behind your work…

The Rolls-Royce design philosophy centres around the principle of simplicity. Shapes are purposeful, lines are considered.  The results are elegant and timeless.

RR bespoke

Favourite feature of a Rolls Royce?

Bespoke is something we proudly feel is almost totally unique to Rolls-Royce Motor Cars. The origins of the name can be traced back to the dawn of Savile Row – where, when a cloth was cut for a specific customer, it was to ‘be- spoken- for’.  It is this same philosophy that serves us today in the tailoring of the worlds finest motor cars. Our approach is authentic; we are not dealing with a pre-defined list of options.  The customer is steering the creation and influencing the outcome, with the process being totally transparent to them.

What makes the Rolls Royce such a luxury car?

We are a niche motor car manufacturer servicing a very discerning group of customers. We are consumed by the pursuit of perfection, striving to optimise engineering and design solutions. The term luxury is a definition of what our customers come to expect; we have come to realise that ‘luxury’ is only the entry point.  Our efforts aim to move beyond this level using the highest quality and excellence in design, exceeding all expectations.

RR Bespoke 2

How would you describe the way you dress for work?

Our efforts are solely focused on the cars, they shape the modern guise of the brand and it is to the cars that people look for a reassurance that the brand is heading in the right direction, not the designer behind the sharp suit and tie. I dress to relax, it helps the creativity; chinos and a shirt.

Rolls-Royce Wraith launch, Vienna, September 2013

Outside of work?

My wardrobe at the weekend isn’t so dissimilar to the week, I probably favour jeans over chinos but still wear a sports jacket and shirt. I am not precious on brand, I am more focused on a great fit and design quality.

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Paul McGregor
Paul McGregor

Founder of MFM, and short course lecturer at The London College of Fashion teaching all things marketing. Read my personal blog here.

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