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