Title sorta says it all. Last week, us DTSFT girls went to the Designing 007 – Fifty Years of Bond Style exhibition at the Barbican. We’re not particularly big Bond fans, I’m sad to say, but as film lovers we wanted to see the production side of the exhibition. And, for me, I knew there were going to be numerous costumes on show especially as Lindy Hemming, costume designer for GoldenEye, Tomorrow Never Dies, The World is Not Enough, Die Another Day and Casino Royale, helped curate the exhibition. Also, what do we at DTSFT love? Suits. What is Bond pretty well known for? Suits. Sold.
The day started off to a rocky start. First, we had issues meeting up at Blackfriars. In our defence, only Helen has ever been to that station. So after wandering around until we found each other we then made our way to the Barbican. The best thing about that walk was that we realised we were going to pass by St Bartholomew’s Hospital. Or, to us, the location THAT show (Sherlock) filmed THAT scene (need I say?). We were pretty disappointed by the lack of blue plaque, chalk outline, screaming fangirls (we didn’t count) but then we spotted this:
Instantly made taking that path worthwhile.
So then we got to the Barbican and were treated to a freakish model of Sean Connery. The more you stared at it the creepier it got. Try it. But, he was modelling the Conduit Suit (yep, I hadn’t heard of it either – I need more suit knowledge) from Dr No. It was pretty amazing. And because you could take photos that seemed cooler too.
[Yes, the photos aren’t here yet…I will put them in. I promise.]
The first section of the tour was dedicated to gold. So anything that was made of gold pretty much. There was a model of the golden girl from Goldfinger, Pussy Galore’s gold waistcoat, costume sketches, set drawings, props and more.
The next section concentrated on Ian Fleming. There was some interesting pieces on show including the first hardback cover designs. But there was one wall that was dedicated to odd facts about Fleming. And laid out like an A Level English project. I couldn’t understand the links to certain pieces, the notes were handwritten (which can be nice) and there were mistakes that had been carelessly fixed. We were pretty disappointed.
Then there was a section on M’s office which had a collection of costumes for M and Miss Moneypenny, model boxes and set drawings for the office and stlye boards for James Bond and some discussion of his suits. A section followed based on Q branch. Essentially, all of those gadgets you know and love from the Bond films. Interspersed in these sections were clips from the films.
Then we got to my favourite section. The casino. No, not because I love gambling. I’m not sure if I’ve ever properly gambled anyway. The casino section was filled with costumes. It isn’t until you have numerous casino related costumes in one place that you realise quite how prominent casinos are in the Bond films. Some of the costumes were authentic and some had been replicated specifically for the exhibition as the original costumes had either been destroyed, damaged or missing. This was mostly with the costumes from the early Bond films. Included in these costumes was one from Skyfall. (One of Bérénice Marlohe’s costumes for her character Sévérine.) Although not hidden per say, it was just placed amongst others. I had sort of expected that a bigger deal would’ve been made of anything to do with Skyfall. The best part of the casino section? Bond’s suits. Obviously. We had a range from the different Bonds and this also showed the different tailors responsible for the Bonds. Pierce Brosnan’s were made by Brioni. Daniel Craig’s suits are made by Tom Ford (except in Casino Royale when he wore Brioni – Lindy Hemming as the costume designer continued her connection with Brioni after the Brosnan years, but with a new costume designer came a new tailor). Alongside the costumes were costume sketches from various costume designers, photographs of the processes taken in the costume reconstructions, jewellery and set boxes for various casinos.
Then we moved onto foreign territories including incredible set drawings and storyboarding. Just to see the way that different storyboard artists work was incredible. There was also one little section within that dedicated to space. Thank you Roger Moore and Moonraker.
The next section was entitled villains and enigmas. This was pretty impressive. To have a section dedicated to the villains was interesting. The section included many aspects of the villain – costumes, props, anecdotes, sketches, film clips.
Then there was the ice palace…seeming to be mostly about Die Another Day, which everyone can agree is not the best Bond film. But, saying that, the set was pretty awesome so seeing a recreation of that was pretty cool. (Sorry, pun not intended.) Then there were snow related costumes – I didn’t realise Bond did so much skiing. And more Die Another Day related costumes. Rosamund Pike’s costume was quite beautiful but I’m less convinced with Halle Berry’s costume. Or character.
Then we moved onto the most important part of the exhibition. Yep. The Martini Bar. We planned our trip carefully. We wanted time to leisurely go through the exhibition and be ready for when the martini bar opened. We’re classy broads. So, the martinis. The first ones we had (oh, yeah) were slightly diluted martinis to ease us into them. The cracked black pepper one (which I had mocked on hearing the name and yet reading the ingredients liked the sound of) was really nice – rose syrup. I approved. Helen had the lychee martini, also delicious. Sarah risked the red chilli martini (medium strength), which I barely tested due to fear. And Hannah had the yummy raspberry and vanilla martini. Then there was trouble. (Not really. Not at all.) I amde the decision to try a “proper” martini because it was unlikely to happen again and Hannah agreed. I went for a Vesper martini (the one Bond orders in Casino Royale – I only know this because that clip was repeated insessantly in the casino section) and Hannah went for a classic (vodka, not gin). The Vesper martini consisted gin, vodka and Lillet Blanc (a French vermouth). So, we were warned that they were both pretty strong. They were. But we powered through. And I think if I had enough practice that could be my drink of choice. It’d be a lot of practice though.
So that was our group outing to the Barbican. Much more successful than our last group outing to see The Bourne Legacy. The less said about that the better. The film, not the occasion. So, thoughts? We came out wanting to watch all the Bond films. So well done marketing campaign. Casino section was brilliant, Ian Fleming bit was less so, and I would’ve liked a bit more Skyfall stuff. I know they don’t want to ruin the film but just some model boxes, more costumes, props we’ve already seen in the trailers, anything more than one lone costume haphazardly “thrown” in. Also, the costumes were put on grey felt mannequins (weird in itself) who then had wigs made. They were clearly mannequins. No-one was under any impression that Judi Dench had wandered in and was posing in her costume. Plus, the wigs looked ridiculous.Martini bar? Loved. If quite pricey. Also love that our first bartender could’ve been a Bond girl and our second looked like Jeremy Renner. We approved.
Anyone else been? Your thoughts? If I’d been more organised I could have had this up before the exhibition shut. Alas, I failed. I apologise.
P.S. If you’re interested in Bond’s suits please check out the blog The Suits of James Bond. I just stumbled upon it and will be taking a further look. It looks great though.