From Marilyn Monroe’s shocking-pink gown by William Travilla (replete with opera gloves) in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, to Maggie Cheung’s flower-strewn cheongsam in Wong Kar-wei’s masterpiece In The Mood For Love, cinema is full of iconic dresses which linger in the memory and sometimes define an entire era (we’re looking at you, Audrey Hepburn).
But what is it that makes movie haute couture stand out? Sometimes it’s more than perfect design, and the size and shape of the actress donning it. Many costumes in the world of cinema have significance to the storyline, signifying a change in plot, dynamic, or character development. And some, of course, simply look great. One in particular ticks all these boxes, and that’s the dress that Eva Green, playing Vesper Lynd, wears in the pivotal scene in the 2006 James Bond reboot Casino Royale.
Watch almost any movie set in and around the glitzy world of casinos and you’ll see glamorous ladies dressed to the nines, and gentlemen donning tuxedos. And in the real world this is sometimes the case — many high-end casinos come with their own strict dress codes and guidelines (these are worth checking out if you’re planning a jaunt to the grand gaming halls of Vegas, Macau, or Monte Carlo).
But, if you’re one of millions of worldwide players who enjoy iGaming via your computer or phone there’s no need to get into your glad rags — you can enjoy live-dealer games, the latest bingo promotions, and a whole host of slot machines in your dressing gown and slippers, should the mood take you. Of course, if wearing a tux makes the online experience more immersive, don’t let us stop you.
A stand-out dress, even among the iconic attire from the film franchise, designed by Roberto Cavalli, Vesper wears a close-fitting, purple gown which features a plunging neckline with a striking beaded design. Disobeying her orders to walk up behind Bond to kiss him ‘for good luck’ (as a distraction for the other players), she heads straight for him, plants a kiss on his head, and turns for the bar, revealing her bare back. It’s quite an entrance, to say the least.
Symbolically, purple is a color associated with spirituality, and a calm demeanor, and this would at first be the case — Vesper is presented as a level-headed Treasury accountant, out in the field to keep a loose-cannon agent in line, and perfectly comfortable defying Bond's instructions, despite his alpha-male persona.
A Deeper Significance?
However, having witnessed, and played some part, in Bond’s killing of an African warlord and his bodyguards, we see the dress take on a different dimension. Vesper sits beneath a cold shower, her purple gown turned to an almost-black shade of aubergine, possibly signifying what lies ahead — betrayal, loneliness, and eventually, death.
As the freezing water trickles over her, the entire timbre of her character shifts into something much more complex, setting the tone for the gripping final third of the film.
What Makes an Iconic Movie Dress?
Costume design has always played a major part in motion pictures, from the earliest days of cinema — 1939’s Gone With The Wind features Vivien Leigh as Scarlett O’Hara wearing many beautiful dresses, notably her scandalous and revealing (for the time, and in comparison to the heavily petticoated attire of the other ladies present) dress of sensuous red velvet, at a party she attends alone. Her outfits, their designs and colors reflect her developing character as well as the growing complexity of her state of mind.
But dresses in films also give designers the chance to experiment with styles and materials — Audrey Hepburn is probably most associated with the quintessential ‘little black dress’ in Breakfast At Tiffany’s, but more striking is her Paco Rabane-designed outfit in the party scene of Two For The Road. Rabane’s background in industrial design comes to the fore, with acrylic discs forming a metallic texture in a departure from traditional haute couture. And, of course, Audrey Hepburn is wearing it, so it looks great.
Eva Green’s portrayal of Vesper Lynd is one of the standout performances in the entire Bond franchise, and casts a long shadow across all five of the Daniel Craig films. The beautiful dress she wears holds clues to her character’s complicated and tragic story arc, just as many iconic movie dresses have done over cinematic history.