Starlight Headliner has become as much a part of Rolls-Royce iconography as the Spirit of Ecstasy, Pantheon Grille and ‘Double R’ monogram. However, in the spirit of the marque’s dedication to fulfilling the wishes of its patrons, it began as a Bespoke request. A Rolls-Royce client was suffering from Photophobia, an extreme sensitivity to light, and was only able to enjoy reading his daily newspaper under the starlight on his rural ranch. He requested that the marque develop a similar ambience in his Rolls-Royce.

The client took delivery of his Phantom in 2006, which was equipped with 800 stars. Such was the response to this innovation, Rolls-Royce requested the permission of the commissioning patron to fulfil the wishes of clients who wanted a Starlight Headliner of their own. The Bespoke Collective of designers, engineers and craftspeople restlessly developed this remarkable technology, extending it to the entire length of the roof and varying the intensity of light emitted by each star to better reflect the night’s sky.

The constellation of each Starlight Headliner is completely unique to the owner. Typically, it takes nine hours to craft, but a personalised pattern needs its own template, which can take as long as a week to complete. Two Rolls-Royce craftspeople marry their skills to create this extraordinary feature. It’s the perfect alliance of traditional craftsmanship and contemporary technology.

First, the leather is perforated with 1,400 to 1,600 holes, each carefully counted. Fibre optic threads, which are hand-trimmed at different angles to achieve a twinkling effect, are set into these holes by hand. The craftsperson then ensures that the fibres are perfectly seated on the visible leather surface, ready to shine.

With such skilled craftspeople creating the Starlight Headliner, they can take on any personalised aesthetic, depicting constellations exactly as they were on any day in modern history, manifold colours, graphics, shooting stars and even illuminated wood veneer. One owner requested that the lights to be configured in the shape of his coat of arms, another asked for the configuration to represent the Ursa Major and Minor constellations. While for another customer the Rolls-Royce monogram was created to illuminate separately from the rest of the stars.

As one press review put it: ‘Could all this be accomplished by a robot? Probably, but it’s not. Instead, Rolls-Royce hires dexterous, detail-obsessed individuals from the textile realm and others. The tangible result is a totally different take on heavenly creationism that’s still almost impossible to comprehend.”