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Words by Mr Mansel Fletcher

During the mid-1990s the James Bond franchise was in need of a reboot. Mr Pierce Brosnan was chosen to play the new 007, and costume designer Ms Lindy Hemming was chosen to re-calibrate the secret agent's style. She dressed 007 for a decade, and styled Mr Daniel Craig for his first Bond movie, Casino Royale. She has also worked on all three of Mr Christopher Nolan's Batman films, including The Dark Knight Rises, which is released later this month.

This summer Ms Hemming and fashion historian Ms Bronwyn Cosgrave are co-curating Designing 007 - Fifty Years of Bond Style, a comprehensive overview of the design and style of the films. The huge exhibition, at London's Barbican Centre, takes in the gadgets, sets, cars, casinos and clothes that have defined the 50 years of Bond movies.

How did you become involved with the Bond films?
They had a break after Timothy Dalton, and they wanted to start again with Pierce Brosnan and all new people. They wanted a fresh start, and in those days I was called a fresh start.
What was your brief?
They wanted a combination of fashion interest and to delve into the characters the actors were playing. I tried to bring a bit more reality, so it would be more credible, but at the same time maintain the glamour.
How do you go about designing the costumes for a film?
You read the script, talk to the director about the characters' backgrounds, and talk with the production designer about the look and colour scheme of the film. You talk to the actors about how they feel about their bodies, how they like to wear clothes and what things worry them. Then you produce drawings and mood boards.
How did you want to present Mr Pierce Brosnan?
When Timothy Dalton's moment came it was the post-Miami Vice era, so being casual was the way they thought Bond should go. For Brosnan it returned to sophisticated classic elegance. I think a secret service agent should look beautiful, elegant and sophisticated, but can always pass among other men - even if he looks better than them.

Mr Pierce Brosnan as James Bond in The World is Not Enough, 1999

In your mind, what is the essence of James Bond?
In the exhibition there's a wall explaining how [Mr Ian] Fleming came to create Bond. He [Mr Fleming] was really well connected, and he met the most fascinating men. He met them when he worked at Reuters, and he met even more of them when he went to work for Naval Intelligence. Bond is the juice that comes out of squeezing all those people together.
So is Bond's style informed by Mr Fleming's style?
The way [Mr Fleming and his colleagues] dressed they would have owned old elegant clothes, if they were aristocrats, while the working-class guys would have been wearing post de mob suits. Nothing flashy - no one would have been in a Hardy Amies-style tight suit. But Fleming also loved safari suits, swimwear, wet suits; you can find everything in Fleming's life - the beautiful silk-faced turn-back cuffs that Tom Ford did for Daniel Craig are from Fleming's own dinner jackets.
And how was Bond's style interpreted for the films?
In the gap between the books and the films [nine years separate the 1953 publication of Casino Royale, the first book, and the 1962 release of Dr. No, the first film] Italian tailoring came in and [fashion] moved to shorter and tighter jackets, and shorter trousers. It was a reaction to the loose, drapey, Ivy League suits. So you have a classic, slightly fashionable suit for a younger man. That's where Bond's look came from for Sean Connery, and, apart from the width of lapels, I don't know that Bond needs to have changed much from Sean Connery to now.
Why did you decide to use Brioni for Mr Brosnan's suits?
We couldn't find a tailor on Savile Row who could manufacture, in the 16 weeks we had between reading the script and needing the costumes to be ready, all the different outfits that we needed. I needed someone who could tailor the clothes and produce the numbers we required. I'd read an article about Brioni, so I contacted them and met the then CEO, Mr [Umberto] Angeloni. He got it immediately and said, "We are doing it". No money changed hands, he just knew what it was worth to the company. They could be asked to produce 25 or even 50 suits, and they would stop the factory in order to make them and they would arrive, beautifully boxed. And if we suddenly needed more, and we were in Prague, they would arrive. They were unbelievable.

Mr Daniel Craig as James Bond in Casino Royale, 2006

How did you manage the transition from Mr Brosnan to Mr Craig?
It was a bit traumatic, because I'd become close friends with Pierce Brosnan, and I'd also worked with Daniel Craig twice before. But it was a totally different experience. Pierce was 6'3" tall and slim, lithe and languid; Daniel is a bullet of a person, a short panther, muscular and stocky. For Daniel I revisited the casualwear of Sean Connery, in terms of cardigans and short-sleeve shirts, because I felt as if he had to have those things. The more I looked into it the more I realised how unusual Sean Connery's clothes were - such as his terry towel pale blue jump suit, and these unusual swimming shorts. I used Sunspel to tailor [Mr Craig's] T-shirts and his nice piqué polo shirts.
Who, so far, is the best-dressed Bond?
My favourite Bond was always Sean Connery. Pierce Brosnan used to say that Connery was his favourite. I didn't like the departure into 1970s tailoring that they did with Roger Moore. I don't believe more people went to see Roger Moore because he was dressed like that. I wouldn't think that a secret service agent would look fashionable.
Lastly, can you explain why Mr Brosnan's hair was so long in GoldenEye?
His hair was much too bouncy in the beginning. Well-known actors bring their own team of coiffeurs and maquillage and they're often outside the control of anybody. That's not a correct artistic way, but that's how things are.

Designing 007 - Fifty Years of Bond Style runs from 6 July to 5 September at the Barbican Centre, London. barbican.org.uk

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