The connection between Hollywood costume design and the films of the 007/James Bond franchise, especially in regards to the changing perspective of the “Bond Girl”, is an intricate relationship that has previously been little researched. In the most recent Bond films, in particular, the female characters have become more powerful than the early characters and their roles within the narratives have changed with their characters taking on stronger and more integral roles. This thesis seeks to examine the films of the 007/James Bond franchise and how the rhetoric of the franchise’s costume design affects the representation of femininity and power in regards to the Bond Girls. After an overview of Bond history and costume theory, two films are analyzed as case studies: Dr. No (1962) which marks the beginning of the film franchise and Casino Royale (2006), which marks the more recent turn the films have taken. This thesis examines how the representations of Bond Girls and the use of costume design for their characters have changed over the course of the franchise from the days of Sean Connery to the recent reboot of the franchise with Daniel Craig as 007 James Bond. In addition to an examination of Bond Girl costume design, this thesis considers the role and influence of the costume designers. A designer’s vision of a character is derived from both the writing and the physical features of the actresses before them. Here this thesis considers how the rhetorical choices made by designers have contributed to an understanding of the relationship between femininity and power. Finally it shows how the costumes effect the power of the female characters and how the Bond Girls of today (Casino Royale) compare and/or contrast to Bond Girls of the past (Dr. No). This thesis combines the areas of feminist film theory and costume theory to provide an original rhetorical analysis of the Bond series in relation to costume design and examines the rhetorical statements made by the costume designers in their designs for the characters and how those statements influence the representations of the characters.
- License to thrill: Bond girls, costumes, and representation