For the past 44 years, men have swooned over the Bond Girls and women have wanted to be like them.
They have become an icon of film history and broken fashion boundaries with their sexy, mesmerizing style. There have been Bond Girl goddesses, bad Bond Girls, good Bond Girls. Bond Girl slayers, betrayers and murderers. And in nearly every film, 007 is entangled in a web between at least two of them.
Classic Bond Girls over the years have included Halle Berry (as Jinx in “Die Another Day,” 2002), Teri Hatcher (Paris Carver in “Tomorrow Never Dies,” 1997), Kim Basinger (Domino Petachi in “Never Say Never Again,” 1983), Honor Blackman (Pussy Galore in “Goldfinger,” 1964), Denise Richards (Dr. Christmas Jones in “The World Is Not Enough,” 1999), Jane Seymour (Solitaire in “Live and Let Die,” 1973), Grace Jones (May Day in “A View to a Kill,” 1985) and many others — including Caterina Murino and Eva Green, the dynamic duo from the brand-new remake of 1967’s “Casino Royale.”Check out some classic Bond Girls — and their looks — over the years.
Interestingly, several have married renowned playboys too. Talisa Soto (Lupe Lamora in “Licence to Kill,” 1989) is married to Benjamin Bratt, Carey Lowell (Pam Bouvier in “Licence to Kill”) to Richard Gere, and Barbara Bach (Major Anya Amasova in “The Spy Who Loved Me,” 1977) to Ringo Starr. Britt Ekland (Mary Goodnight in “The Man With the Golden Gun,” 1974) was married to Peter Sellers and had a tempestuous relationship with Rod Stewart.
There could hardly have been better models for the wardrobes featured in the Bond films, which always show a strong appreciation for the silhouette of a woman’s body (indeed, just such a silhouette is featured in the classic opening of the films), whether the woman is wearing a pilot’s uniform, a scuba suit, a leopard-skin coat, a bikini, a belly dancer’s outfit or negligee.
You can even see the influence in today’s music videos: In Beyoncé’s “Irreplaceable,” when she’s seen in silhouette dancing in front of a glass door in a nightgown; and Ciara’s “Promise,” where her black catsuit recalls the leather bodygear worn by Wei Lin (played by Michelle Yeoh) in 1997’s “Tomorrow Never Dies.” And you know that white-button-down-shirt-into-a-tube-top look that Fergie has been rocking lately? Check for it on a spy/stewardess in 1964’s “Goldfinger.”
Those killer outfits can be also be lethal. In 1971’s “Diamonds Are Forever,” Bond approaches a bikini-clad brunette on a beach and uses her bikini top as a weapon — by pulling it up and twisting it around her throat.
“There’s something I’d like for you to get off your chest,” he says as she gasps for air.
While bikini-top-as-strangulation-device is not exactly the best example, a Bond Girl’s style is meant to be able to morph quickly into undercover spywear. This has led to some interesting and playful costumes throughout the years, like a ripped gown matched with a gun holster.
“A Bond Girl can adapt to any sort of environment they need to be dealing with,” said Patrick Carone, entertainment director for Stuff magazine. “If it’s at some fancy casino in Monte Carlo, you’ll see the Bond woman wearing the highest in couture, very fancy brands, jewels, diamonds — all made up. A character like Pussy Galore’s outfits are a lot more functional: She wears pantsuits and trousers and she’s a pilot, but in the same sense, she’s wearing those very stylish, mod ’60s outfits.”
Original Bond Girl Ursula Andress also exemplifies this dual fashion purpose.
“As much as I think of Sean Connery as the first and the best of the Bonds, I think Ursula Andress, the first of the Bond Girls, was the most memorable,” Playboy founder Hugh Hefner told MTV News. “She set the stage for what followed, and I think her first appearance in ’Dr. No,’ when she comes walking out of the surf in the bikini with the dagger on her hip, is the most memorable moment.”
Perhaps not surprisingly, Hefner said the Bond Girl’s style is “exactly” the same as that of a Playboy girl. In fact, the magazine launched in 1953, the same year Ian Fleming published “Casino Royale.” Playboy also published advance excerpts of several Bond books, and the Playboy Club was featured in several of the films.
“There’s no question about it,” Hefner said. “It’s not a coincidence that ’Casino Royale’ was [published] the same year I started Playboy. The Bond Girl had that very contemporary good girl/ bad girl quality that defined the nature of sexuality, particularly in the ’60s and ’70s, and it was timed to the arrival of the sexual revolution. These were independent women, always beautifully attired and coifed — and a lot of fun.”
Of course, the element of risk is an important part of that appeal. “She lives a secret life with danger and adventure and undercover work — some of which involves under the covers,” Hefner chuckled.
Still, “there isn’t a monolithic Bond Girl,” Carone said. “Some of these women are in distress. There are other ones who you can look at as Bond’s equal, where she is obviously extremely sexy. Jinx [Halle Berry] had the eye candy that made Bond weak, but she is an agent as well.”
Other memorable scenes include Tiffany Case (played by Jill St. John) in “Diamonds are Forever,” who lays down with one leg sticking up on a circular bed covered with a huge white fur blanket while men walk in and out of the room. There’s also Holly Goodhead (played by Lois Chiles in 1979’s “Moonraker”), a Space Shuttle commander who wears a tight, bright-yellow spacesuit.
With each film, the look, shape and personality of the Bond Girls has changed over the years. “They’re not as voluptuous as they used to be back in the ’60s,” said swimsuit designer Melissa Odabash. “Now they’re more athletic.”
Indeed, Caterina Murino, who plays Solange in “Casino Royale,” couldn’t have been much further from the Bond-Girl stereotype when she got the call telling her she’d won the part. “I was making a period Italian movie when I got the news,” she recalled. “I was dressed like a man. I was in the middle of a battle, full of blood, with a sword — I was everything a Bond Girl [isn’t]. And I received the phone call and I was jumping up and down, and I started to scream to the crew, ’I’m gonna be the next Bond Girl!’ Nobody believed me.”
Murino said she wasn’t prepared for the emphasis placed on her outfits in the film (which include a red silk Jenny Packham dress worn with yellow diamond earrings, and a mint La Perla bikini). “The costumes were very important because it’s such a glamorous movie and everything must be perfect,” she said. “For the first time, I felt strange because of the tension [over] the costumes.”
“Casino Royale” called for a new but classic look, since it was the first James Bond book.
“Lindy [Hemming, the film’s costume designer] and I, we really talked to one another,” said French actress Eva Green, who plays Vesper Lynd in the new “Casino Royale.” “I said, ’I want to make it look a bit old-fashioned — in a good way — because we’re going back to the essence of Bond. I didn’t want to make it look too sexy-obvious, showing too much flesh or too bimbo. So we had a lot of suits. It was quite reminiscent of the 1940s: sharp, elegant. And then you have those glamorous Versace dresses in the casino, red lipstick, and the hair was quite ’40s. It was all very well-made and intelligent.”
In the film, Green wears a custom-made silk black Versace dress with a Sophie Harley lariat necklace (which plays a role in the movie’s plot), as well as a chic white Armani tuxedo suit and another custom-made Roberto Cavalli dress. However, Green flinches at the term “Bond Girl.”
“I don’t want to call [my character] a Bond Girl because it’s a bit like being called a bimbo,” she said. “[Traditionally, Bond] is going to have another little affair, and then he’s on to the next one, and that’s it. But in this movie, he has a conscience — he feels guilty about killing people after a while, and he says it’s soul-destroying and he can’t do it anymore. And when he meets Vesper, he just wants to give up everything for her.”
Is James Bond growing a heart? Activate your weapons, ladies.
Here are some of the best from five decades of Bond Girl fashion tricks:
Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend
Not only did the hot rocks feature in the title of an early Bond classic (“Diamonds Are Forever”), but Bond Girls are known to be dripping in them — particularly Kim Basinger in “Never Say Never Again.” Upon their first meeting in “Diamonds Are Forever,” Bond asks Tiffany Case where she got her “definitively distinctive” name from. “I was born [at Tiffany’s], on the first floor while my mother was looking for wedding rings,” she says. “Too bad for your sake it wasn’t [legendary Parisian jewelers] Van Cleef and Arpels,” he quips.
It’s Not A Man’s World
A Bond Girl usually has a traditionally male job — professor, physicist, rocket scientist, pilot — as a front in addition to being a spy or having a hidden agenda. In “Goldfinger,” Pussy Galore (played by Honor Blackman), says jokingly to Bond, “I never carry a weapon after business hours,” before wrestling him into a haystack and making love to him. And yes, Bond Girls do smoke cigars.
Red = Murder
In “Licence to Kill,” Lupe Lamora rarely wears any other color, whether she’s in a nightgown or an evening gown. In 1995’s “GoldenEye,” the devilish, poker-playing Russian pilot/spy, Xenia Onatopp (played by Famke Jannsen), drove a red Ferrari, with red leather red gloves and red lipstick to match. Tiffany Case also rocks a red ride. Even at the beginning credits of “The Living Daylights,” a red-gloved hand is seen firing a gun.
What’s Under That Sexy Dress?
A Bond Girl will show up to a fancy affair in a sparkling gown, reminiscent of Cleopatra, and she will command all eyes on her. But she could be hiding something underneath it all. In “Licence to Kill,” Pam Bouvier (played by Carey Lowell) tears off the bottom of her gown to reveal a gun hidden inside her garter belt; in another scene, she’s wearing a bulletproof vest. In “Diamonds Are Forever,” Tiffany Case asks Bond, “Why is my black wig in the pool?” — only to find out that it’s actually the head of a corpse.
Weapons As An Instrument Of Seduction
Many a Bond Girl has threatened 007 with a gun, often pointing it or another weapon directly in his face. He likes it too. In “Licence to Kill,” Bond exclaims, “I’ll do anything for a woman with a knife.”
The Game Is In The Name
Xenia Onatopp, Pussy Galore, Holly Goodhead, Kissy Suzuki, May Day, Christmas Jones, Jinx, Octopussy, Honey Ryder … really!
Be Prepared To Die
“All Bond Girls die,” said Murino, not quite accurately. “But what a beautiful death I have, you know? What more can you ask for?”