Last August in Las Vegas, Rolls-Royce head of communications Richard Carter explained to me how important the Black Badge program would be for one of England’s oldest automakers. “It’s what we’ve got to do,” Carter said, noting that the ego-driven men buying Black Badges wanted “a youthful, expressive Rolls-Royce with boldness befitting of their lifestyle.” He specifically said “men” because no women had yet placed orders for a Black Badge … or so he thought.
“I had already put my order in prior to that,” says Marisa Mills over FaceTime as she waits to takes delivery of her Wraith Black Badge at Steve Foley Rolls-Royce Motor Cars in Northbrook, Illinois. “I had already paid my deposit at that point. I’m as badass as any guy, and I wrote that to them. I just wanted to make the record clear. And the response from Rolls-Royce was phenomenal. I haven’t had a Rolls-Royce, but I’ve been a lover of cars forever.”
This is the first time that Mills — who owns an Aston Martin Vanquish, a Bentley Mulsanne Speed, a Cadillac Escalade, a Mercedes-Benz G550, a Mercedes-Benz S600 sedan, and a pair of Range Rovers — is seeing her new, blacked-out baby. “I can totally feel that my other vehicles are afraid and jealous of this car already. I haven’t driven it yet, and I’m already in love.” Last summer she and a friend, Larry, spec’d out a Wraith Black Badge with a couple of bespoke options, like black-chrome window surrounds and embroidered monograms for the head restraints. “This feels very different from anything else I have,” she says.
As Mills gets behind the wheel of her new car, she says, “I like you. There’s a familiar vibe to you,” then asks my zodiac sign. As she starts up the Wraith, the illuminated Spirit of Ecstasy ornament rises out of the Wraith’s black hood, and Mills exclaims, “That’s awesome! I haven’t seen that yet.” I tell her to push the shiny black door button near the outside corner of dashboard. “I push a button, and the door just closes. Who knew?” A rep from Rolls-Royce asks if Mills would be interested in a $46,000 set of custom-built luggage for her Wraith, and she drowns him out by blasting Santana through the Bespoke audio system.
The rep from Rolls-Royce laughs and then asks if I have any advice for Mills. I tell her to always take her shoes off before getting into the car, because only wearing socks when you drive a Rolls-Royce lets you fully enjoy the high-pile carpeting. “That’s actually great feedback,” she says.
When I finally get the chance, I ask why she decided to buy Rolls-Royce Wraith Black Badge. “I’ve always looked at Rolls-Royces as classic, cool, sophisticated, luxurious. It’s everything I’m attracted to. This is one of my ‘epitome’ cars. It’s badass. This is the pinnacle car I’ve got.”
Photography courtesy of Rakimagery