Diamonds are forever, and so are some of the looks worn by James Bond’s leading women over the past six decades. The London-based Jenny Packham has put a fresh spin on eight of those designs to mark the 60th anniversary of the James Bond 007 film franchise next year. The dresses will hit physical and virtual shop floors on Oct. 5, which has been designated as International James Bond Day.
Packham has been working with the British company Eon, which produces the Bond films, on a capsule of evening dresses that will sell through 10 retailers internationally, including Harrods, Neiman Marcus and Net-a-porter. Six of the dresses nod to different decades of Bond films, while two of them are iterations of designs that Packham created for “Die Another Day” and “Casino Royale.”
Among Packham’s new creations is a one-shouldered red gown that takes its cues from the one worn by actress Sylvia Trench in “Dr. No,” during a game of baccarat. There is also a gold sequin, crystal and tulle dress with a cape inspired by “Goldfinger,” and a beaded silver, wrap-over ’80s style that nods to the costume worn by Maud Adams in “Octopussy.”
In an interview, Packham said that while she was inspired by the original designs, she really set out to create dresses for today. “The designs are not just about Bond, they’re about making great dresses that women want to wear. When a woman puts a dress on, it has got to make her feel good.”
The dresses come in a broad range of sizes, and Packham added details, such as capes, in a bid to keep the designs wearable in today’s world — and not just at the casino in Monte Carlo, or on set. A moody campaign has been shot by Greg Williams at Isabel on London’s Albemarle Street.
Packham had previously worked with Eon, and the costume designer Lindy Hemmings, when she designed the one-shouldered crystal and sequin dress that Rosamund Pike wore at the Ice Hotel in “Die Another Day,” and the pomegranate satin number that Caterina Murino donned in “Casino Royale.”
The “Casino Royale” dress, Packham said, has been an enduring success. “Caterina said that everything changed for her after she put that dress on. And we’re still selling it. People are ringing us from around the world saying ‘I want that red dress.'” The latest iteration of the dress is made from heavy silk satin with straps up the back, and delicate embellishments.
Packham said the Eon team is highly protective of the Bond image and working with them has been an education. “They’re a very small team and they’re very, very precious about the Bond franchise. They approved all the designs, and they care so much. That attitude of control is probably one reason why the Bond franchise has kept on for 60 years.”
The designer had open access to the Bond archives for research and inspiration. Packham observed that, no matter how they were dressed in the films, the James Bond 007 women “were always quite empowered by what they wore.” She pointed to Honey Ryder, played by Ursula Andress in “Dr. No,” emerging from the sea in an ivory bikini — and a large knife strapped to her hip. Honey’s day job was shell diver, hence the tool belt and knife, and she was a fiercely independent character.
The designer said the response from retailers to the capsule was positive from the get-go. “You cannot believe the excitement they felt — I think everyone is happy about going to the cinema again — it’s a feel-good thing.”
It’s not just the retailers feeling the love for Bond. “The Bond movies have been the cinematic constant of my life and so, when I am asked to describe a highlight in my career — to see one of my designs in a Bond film is absolutely one of them,” Packham said.