Saturday, 14 July 2012

Designing 007: James Bond's style celebrated in Barbican exhibition.

007 exhibition looks at screen spy as style icon
Published: July 5, 2012 in The Telegraph
 By JILL LAWLESS — Associated Press

LONDON — If there's one thing James Bond has taught us it's that behind every great spy is a great tailor.

A new exhibition at London's Barbican Centre explores the style of the suave secret agent, displaying costumes, props, set pieces and design drawings from half a century of 007 films.

Assembled with help from the films' producer, EON Productions- which has a new Bond movie to promote in the fall - the exhibition includes the spy's tuxedos, Bond girl ball gowns and villains' vestments, as well as a selection of props and gadgets. There are also sketches by the films' influential set designer, Ken Adam, whose cavernous lairs and sleek space stations did much to create the movies' modernist luster.

The show is both a reflection of the remarkable staying power of Ian Fleming's fictional secret agent and a tribute to the British, European and American craftspeople and designers who have created the look of the quintessentially British icon.

"The films always attracted the greatest design talent," curator Bronwyn Cosgrave said Thursday. They ranged from the German-born Adam to Academy Award-winning costume designer Lindy Hemming, a Briton who helped put together the exhibition.

"In the beginning they didn't have the money - but they had the ingenuity," Cosgrave said.

The money came later, as the globally successful franchise sent Bond to exotic locations around the world - and eventually, in 1979's "Moonraker," into space.

Clips from the movies are screened throughout the exhibition, which includes items that have become mini-icons, from the white bikini worn by Ursula Andress in the first Bond film, "Dr. No," to the tight blue swim trunks sported by Daniel Craig in "Casino Royale."

Cosgrave said that since "Dr. No" in 1962, "Bond has consistently led the way" in style.

She said Sean Connery's "conduit cut" suit by Saville Row tailor Anthony Sinclair from the 1960s films is "the men's equivalent of a Chanel suit," while a sharply cut tuxedo is so identified with the character it has become known as "the James Bond look."

The first time Bond appeared onscreen, in "Dr. No," viewers saw the silk-lined cuff of his tuxedo sleeve before they saw Connery's face.

Cosgrave said the success of the look is simple to explain.

"It's sexy," she said. "When does a man look his best? In a tuxedo."

The exhibition includes tuxes worn by Bonds from Connery (classic Saville Row) to Roger Moore (by designer-to-the-stars Doug Hayward) to Craig, who is dressed by American designer Tom Ford. Ford's lean suits - in neatly circular fashion - draw on the 1960s for inspiration.

Cosgrave said that because actors typically play 007 over several films - apart from one-off George Lazenby in "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" - "each Bond had an opportunity to forge a relationship with their tailor. As a result, they're impeccably dressed."

All those designer names reveal another Bond secret - 007 is both an international brand himself and a magnet for other luxury labels.

With the 23rd Bond film, "Skyfall," set for release in October, the exhibition gift shop lets visitors purchase a piece of Bond style, from cocktail shakers and martini glasses to silk ties and gold bars made of chocolate.

"Designing 007" opens Friday and runs to Sept. 5. It will then tour internationally, opening at the TIFF Bell Lightbox in Toronto in October.



Jill Lawless can be reached at

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Designing 007: James Bond's style celebrated in Barbican exhibition

Barbican showcases costumes and props from the films' 50-year history, from suits and swimwear to gadgets and diamonds

By Simon Chilvers in The Guardian, Thursday 5 July
The Chesterfield coat and hat Sean Connery wears in Dr No for his first meeting with M; Roger Moore's yellow ski suit and red backpack seen on the slopes in The Spy Who Loved Me; George Lazenby's kilt donned in On Her Majesty's Secret Service; the Brioni suit Pierce Brosnan wore to drive a tank in Goldeneye; and Daniel Craig's infamously snug baby-blue swim trunks of Casino Royale fame. All are featured in the Barbican's blockbuster summer show Designing 007: 50 Years of Bond Style, which opens on Friday

Designing 007: Fifty Years of Bond Style
The Barbican, London
Starts 6 July 2012
Until 5 September 2012

Every aspect of this extensive retrospective of the Bond films has been carefully thought through. It is as camp and fun as it is nerdishly packed with facts, production sketches, storyboards and costume drawings. Film screens playing classic clips are dotted throughout, with scenes relating to the paraphernalia, from clothing to props, gadgets to 25-carat diamonds.

The opening scene of Dr No, the first Bond film, featured a close-up of a turned-back silk cuff on a tuxedo jacket designed by Anthony Sinclair for Sean Connery. The tailor's involvement in shaping the look of Bond is integral to the character's image. A three-piece grey-check suit by Sinclair is worn by a Connery-lookalike mannequin leaning on a DB5 Aston Martin in this show.

Bronwyn Cosgrave, fashion historian and co-curator of the exhibition, says Sinclair's designs are the male equivalent of a Chanel suit. Its athletic cut, she says, inspired designers such as Hedi Slimane, Tom Ford and Thom Browne.

Ford's mohair and cashmere tuxedo, worn by Craig in 2008's Quantum of Solace, also puts in an appearance in a section of the exhibition dedicated to Bond casino moments.

As well as Craig's trunks, there is a recreation of Connery's Thunderball shorts, which Bond costume designer and Oscar-winner Lindy Hemming – the exhibition's other key curator – asked British brand Sunspel to recreate. Such is the power of Bond – Cosgrave says many fashion trends have been inspired by the fashions of this franchise – that Sunspel, who also created clothes for Craig's Casino Royale wardrobe, has launched a new swimwear line.

Designed to take visitors on a Bond-style narrative journey – there are rooms dedicated to M, ski slopes and foreign locations. Cosgrave says the show aims to reflect all 23 films. Visitors walk through a bullet-shaped entrance covered with stills from the films, before arriving in the Gold Room, which features a revolving circular bed complete with white sheets and a gold-painted female body – a nod to the classic scene from Goldfinger.

Pussy Galore's gold waistcoat and Scaramanga's golden gun are displayed in glass cases alongside black-and-white footage of Connery arriving at the premiere of Goldfinger and being mobbed by fans. "The film Goldfinger made Bond a pop-culture phenomenon rivalled only by the Beatles," says Cosgrave.

Other costume highlights in the exhibition include Ursula Andress's Dr No bikini, which was created from the actor's bra and some bottoms found locally during filming, alongside designs by Prada, Gucci and Versace.

In 2002's Die Another Day, Halle Berry's Jinx Johnson paid homage to Andress by emerging from the sea in a similar bikini. But it is Berry's Versace evening dress that is one of the exhibition's standouts. It is a typically flesh-revealing gown in a pinkish purple and featuring glittering jewels across the top section. Alongside the dress are the original sketches by the designer Donatella Versace.

Similarly eye catching is a canary yellow Roberto Cavalli affair which is slashed in the front and splattered with Swarovski crystals around the bust. This was worn by Ivana Milicevic to play Valenka, the girlfriend of Casino Royale's villian Le Chiffre. There is also the red silk georgette, one-shouldered dress worn by Eunice Gayson to play Bond's girlfriend Sylvia Trench in Dr No. This dress was apparently bought by the actor herself from an inexpensive shop near Pinewood studios following the film director Terence Young vetoing costume designer Julie Harris's original choice.

In a section dedicated to Bond villains and enigmas, Madonna's fencing ensemble from Die Another Day and Jaws' metal teeth also feature.

"It's the longest running and most successful film franchise of all time – and the most glamorously made," says Cosgrove. "Nothing can touch it. That is why Bond and his sidekicks are inspirational to people all over the world and to all ages."

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