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The Spirit of Ecstasy Lives On



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As Rolls-Royce-philes everywhere know, the figurine that graces the hood (a.k.a. “bonnets”) of every Rolls for the last 100 years (yes, this is the centenary), the flying lady, is known as the “Spirit of Ecstasy.” It was designed by Charles Robinson Sykes.

The story is that Sykes based the figurine on Eleanor Velasco Thornton, a British actress and model. The story hasn’t been wholly validated.

To celebrate the Spirit of Ecstasy, Rolls-Royce has engaged the skills of British photographer Rankin (full name is John Rankin Waddell, in case you’re curious), who will be shooting 100 photographs that will be collected and displayed as “Rankin: Spirit of Ecstasy.”


To initiate his shoot, Rankin photographed his wife, Tuuli Shipster, who is a model in her own right.

About the undertaking, Rankin said, “This is one of the biggest projects I have ever taken on. The images will be a statement about the modern day Rolls-Royce; they will feel fresh, directional and original, while also being beautiful and inspiration. The portraits will comprise a variety of perspectives, including full length as well as close-up shots incorporating facial features—an eye, a mouth—to reflect a unique interpretation of the figurine’s connotations, while quietly symbolizing its classic underpinnings.”


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