Designing 007: Fifty Years of Bond Style

Designing 007 Exhibition Review by Emma Johnston

Please note: The author's views are entirely his or her own and may not reflect the views of RetoxMagazine.com

Above: Gold Shirley Eaton mannequin. Designing 007: 50 Years of Bond Style, at the Barbican Centre © Jane Hobson.

Designing 007: Fifty Years of Bond Style

Eeekkk, how exciting! I was asked to attend the Designing 007: Fifty Years of Bond Style show at the Barbican Centre. Composing of three exhibits, the spectators are treated to facts, props, costumes, artwork and much more. A glimpse into the inside world that forms the world’s most successful (and awesome) movie franchise ever. I am slightly biased, I grew up watching James Bond with my father. Remember ITV showed them on Saturday evenings? One of my favourite childhood memories is being on a family holiday in Butlins and going to their onsite cinema and watching "Tomorrow Never Dies". Ah the late nineties... But I digress, let’s get onto the exhibit!

"No Mr Bond, I expect you to die."

After walking through the gun shaped entrance, the first part of the exhibition is a Goldfinger themed room (with an impressive gold rotating Shirley Eaton mannequin which is sprawled on a bed) that is full of Bond bits and bobs. The interior is reminiscent of Sir Ken Adam's own Fort Knox designs for the films and coincidently they have a few of his original drawings dotted around the show. Artifacts including an original golden gun (jaw drop) lie behind protective glass and prove to be incredibly interesting. My own personal favourite was the gold Shirley Bassey theme tune record that she received after its tremendous success. It combined three of my favourite things; amazing Bond themes, novelty vinyls and young photos of celebrities.

Scaramanga's Golden Gun - Designing 007

Exhibit of Scaramanga's Golden Gun. Designing 007: 50 Years of Bond Style, at the Barbican Centre © Jane Hobson.

"Must you touch everything?"

Next section is dedicated to Q's weapons and gadgets. Including Mr Connery's exploding briefcase and Q's missile plastered leg plus many more. Each item has an amusing facts card entailing which film it was used in and most of the props have an accompanying clip showing exactly how the gadget was intended to be used. I don't want to give too much away but there is a particularly hilarious story involving destroying an Aston Martin.

Designing 007 - James Bond exhibition

Designing 007: 50 Years of Bond Style, at the Barbican Centre © Jane Hobson.

Elektra King Ski Costume sketch for James Bond film Elektra King in ski outfit for James Bond film

Above left: Elektra King Ski Costume sketch The World Is Not Enough. Above right: Elektra King in ski outfit The World Is Not Enough. © 1999 Danjaq, LLC and United Artists Corporation. All rights reserved.

"Thank god for hard currency!"

There is also a room dedicated to Bond abroad which despite not being as detailed as the previous areas had some interesting pieces. Including many items from "Live and Let Die" (my 3rd favourite of the franchise) like (!) the original tarot cards and Voodoo flag. Another room is one devoted to all things casino within the franchise. The most impressive within this area is the collection of dresses and suits plus a rather expensive replica diamond necklace worn by a certain Terri Hatcher. Yet another impressive collection is that of all the villains and femme fatales of the franchise. Their costumes and props are positioned neatly in their own glass case for everyone to view. The final room is called the Ice Palace and focuses on Bond's ice/snow escapades. Slightly disappointing as it focuses mainly on "Die Another Day" (thumbs down) but it is still impressive how much effort has went into the organising of it.

Designing 007 exhibit - James Bond film

Designing 007: 50 Years of Bond Style, at the Barbican Centre © Jane Hobson.

Jaws’ teeth sketch for James Bond film displayed at Designing 007 Jaws the steel teeth worn by Richard Kiel in James Bond films

Above left: Jaws’ teeth sketch from The Spy Who Loved Me. Above right: Jaws was played by actor Richard Kiel to great effect. With his dental weaponry of razor sharp steel teeth and towering menace Jaws was a popular character, so much so that his scripted demise at the end of the film was given an alternative ending allowing him to reappear in the next Bond epic Moonraker, in which he is transformed from 007's adversary to an ally. Kiel reported that the stainless steel teeth were so painful that he could only wear them for five minutes at a time. © 1977 Danjaq, LLC and United Artists Corporation. All rights reserved.

"You see, we have all the time in the world."

I spent two and a half hours at this show. As a Die Hard fan I gazed at every item and read every piece of trivia. Despite the minor flaws within the pacing of the exhibit it is clear to anyone just how much time and dedication has been invested to create this wonderful show. If anything it reminded me why I love James Bond; the quotes, the action, the gadgets, the costumes and even the Bond girls and has made me super-duper excited for Skyfall. A truly fantastic afternoon.

On that note ladies, Mr Craig's blue swimming trunks are also on display.

"Hope you enjoyed the show..... Goodnight."

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