Designing 007, From the Dress Shoes Up

It may be the closest you ever get to living the life of a jet-setting, bad guy-fighting, super model-kissing, world-saving, international super spy. The Designing 007: Fifty Years of Bond Style exhibit at Toronto’s TIFF Bell Lightbox immerses visitors in everything Bond, mining the EON studio vaults for artifacts from the entire spectrum of the spy series.

Co-curators Lindy Hemming (costume designer for five Bond films between 1995 and 2006 and an Oscar winner) and Bronwyn Cosgrave (fashion writer-historian) staged the exhibit to allow visitors to step into Bond’s shoes (almost quite literally), providing not only a sense of what it’s like to be 007, but of the extraordinary effort required to design a Bond film.

“My passion is for people to understand a little bit more about the design in movies. I want people to look at the design of props, sets, the gadgets, at the design of an umbrella that turns into something else,” Hemming told me. “And, of course, costumes.”

Before you even get a ticket you’ll be greeted by a display case containing the beachwear of Bond beauties Halle Berry and Ursula Andress (the latter is a replica) as well as Sean Connery and Daniel Craig’s trunks.

The exhibit itself leads visitors through a number of themed rooms, including M’s office (featuring film-used Bond passports, pistols, personal effects and even a gun-concealing flask), Q Branch (lots of weapons and gadgets) and foreign territories (highlighting Bond’s globe-trotting adventures).

A room dedicated to Bond author Ian Fleming, boasts nine first-edition hardcover novels, spanning 1957’s From Russia With Love to 1966’s Octopussy.


The Gold Room, one of the exhibit’s highlights, is significant for a number of reasons – Bond’s golden anniversary, the theme of gold throughout the Bond franchise, Goldfinger himself – and is anchored by a spinning gold bed atop which a re-creation of Jill Masterson’s semi-nude gold-plated body lays face down. You’ll also find wardrobe belonging to Pussy Galore, Goldfinger, and the franchise’s only surviving golden gun and bullet.

The Casino room, an elaborate game room set up, features tuxedos and evening gowns worn by Bond, various evil-doers and some very glamorous ladies, while the Villains room boasts a re-creation of Dr. No’s jacket, which Cosgrave calls, “a reference point for all the Bond villains,” as well as some infinitely intriguing props, such as Jaws’ teeth and Tee Hee’s prosthetic arm.

Throughout the exhibit, sketches of the sets and costumes, photos and even scripts are prominently displayed, while movie clips act as a sort of exclamation point on the entire Bond experience.

“It really will convey how a film is made,” Cosgrave said. “Hopefully, the cumulative experience is that people will walk away understanding the complexity of production design.”

Mission accomplished. This exhibit is definitely one to check out for a unique and entertaining insight into what it takes to create Bond, from the dress shoes up. By the end of it, you may find yourself struck with a sudden, unexplained craving for a martini – shaken, not stirred.

Designing 007: Fifty Years of Bond Style runs at the TIFF Bell Lightbox from Oct. 27, 2012 to Jan. 20, 2013. Click here for more information about this exhibit and other Bond-related Lightbox activities.

-Mike Crisolago