The footage above was taken during a top secret mission to infiltrate a new exhibition of James Bond costumes, props, and sketches at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. Alright, I was invited. And I shot it on my iPhone, not microfiche. Designing 007: Fifty Years of Bond Style celebrates half a century of the cinema’s most famous spy. Everything you could possibly want is here: Ursula Andress’s white bikini, Oddjob’s deadly bowler hat, Goldfinger’s gold tuxedo.
I had the privilege of interviewing Oscar-winning costume designer Lindy Hemming (Topsy-Turvy, The Dark Knight trilogy) about her experiences working on five Bond films, from GoldenEye to Casino Royale. Her insight into creating Bond’s wardrobe gave me a greater appreciation for the craft of costume design. An immaculately tailored tuxedo can announce 007′s presence more powerfully than his own signature introduction: “Bond, James Bond.”
Sixty year old Gordon Smith looks like an ordinary aging man; he is tall and thin, his hair and beard long since faded to white. Yet anyone who knows superheroes, or makeup for that matter, knows Smith is so much more than he appears to be. A Canadian legend, Gordon Smith is the makeup master that brought the fictional characters of X-men to life.
The X-men Master: Gordon Smith exhibition at the TIFF Bell Lightbox takes up the near-impossible task of doing Smith’s special effects makeup justice. The exhibit showcases designs from seven X-men characters, “making of”-style videos and legendary items from Smith’s personal collection.
Entering the exhibition centre, a small room filled with glass cases and sketch-lined walls, the most visible piece is, of course, Smith’s famed makeup chair. A minty green leather, with stains, rips, and creases. This is the legendary chair in which Rebecca Romijn became Mystique after 10 hours of labour and makeup. It is the chair that held Hugh Jackman and Tyler Mane as they became bigger, hairier, and scarier; when they finally stood up, they were transformed from men into Wolverine and Sabretooth. Celebrities sat down in it one by one, and almost magically, they became more than just actors; they became living, breathing comic book characters. Continue reading →
Every little girl dreams of becoming a princess—or at least that’s what people thought once upon a time. Nowadays, young women are more likely to look up to female pop stars, politicians, and professional athletes. But the Cinderella narrative, the hope of being plucked from obscurity by a handsome Prince Charming and showered with all the couture and tiaras one could ever want, still holds power in our collective imagination.
How else to explain the exhibit Grace Kelly: From Movie Star to Princess at the TIFF Bell Lightbox? The indisputably beautiful Kelly shot to fame in the 1950s as Alfred Hitchcock’s “icy blonde” in classics like Rear Window and To Catch A Thief, only to abandon acting to marry His Serene Highness Prince Rainier of Monaco.
Unlike the princesses-turned-celebrities Diana Spencer and Kate Middleton, Princess Grace went in the other direction. Her 1956 wedding was an international news sensation; MGM produced the official documentary, thus delivering the final film on her contract. Princess Grace turned tiny Monaco into a glamorous weekend getaway for her Hollywood friends. Gradually retreating from the camera’s gaze, she wrote poetry and pressed flowers, only to die in a car crash at age 52.
“Grace Kelly brings together the Golden Age of Hollywood, European royalty and the very best of 20th century fashion,” says Noah Cowan, Artistic Director of the TIFF Bell Lightbox. “Considered the epitome of elegance and glamour, she was also among the most significant taste-makers for women around the world.”