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IN CONVERSATION WITH:
MEG SIMMONDS

In October 2022, Lock & Co. opened ‘60 Years of James Bond Hats’, an exclusive exhibit celebrating the film franchise’s 60th Anniversary. Featuring hats from the six decades of 007 films - including several Lock & Co. designs - the exhibition will be a chance to see original pieces of movie history from the 007 Archive, some of which have never been shown before. Fans of fashion history, film history and James Bond will be able to see hats alongside supporting props and costumes worn by characters from the series, curated by EON Productions’ Archive Director Meg Simmonds. To celebrate this historic anniversary and one-off exhibit, we caught up with EON’s Archive Director Meg Simmonds to discuss 60 Years of James Bond Hats… 

60 years of James Bond hats

Have you always been a fan of James Bond films? 

 I’ve been aware of James Bond from a very early age. I wasn’t what you would call a ‘fan’ but I looked forward to seeing the films. Now that I’ve got to know the films intimately, I am a ‘fan’. There’s so much to admire in each one.

 How long have you been Archive Director at EON Productions’?  

27 years.

How does the process of archiving work? Do you acquire everything straight after filming the James Bond movies?

 My role covers capturing all aspects of the history of a film, through information and objects. So to start I visit the set during production and begin gathering stories from the crew on what, how, and why they are doing whatever they are doing. Some areas aren’t instantly obvious targets for an archivist – the gaffers and grips teams for example - however as they are such a key part of the film-making process, they are a great source of information. They can also help explain what’s going on in the images our photographers take behind the scenes of filming. Then after production is over, department by department decisions are made on what props, set dressing, and costumes are kept. We over-keep on these because it’s hard to know what will stand out in the final film until you see the final edit.

Tell us a bit about some of the 007 props, costumes, and hats being exhibited at Lock & Co.? 

We have all six decades of Bond represented in this exhibit. From Oddjob’s SFX hat seen in Goldfinger in the 60s, to Monica Bellucci’s funeral hat seen in Spectre in 2015. We’ve included extra props to set the scene – so for example Q’s laptop and hotel pass to accompany the woolly beanie he wears in the mountain sequence in Spectre; Goldfinger’s golf shoes are shown with the Oddjob hat; fencing foils from Die Another Day set-off Bond’s fencing mask; and an inscribed Best Man lighter Felix gives to Bond in The Living Daylights, is shown with Tim’s bullet-damaged top hat. It was fun to be able to create little tableaus around each of the hats to give them context. We also have two full costumes from the Spectre Mexico City Day of The Dead scenes – Bond’s stunning hand-painted skeleton tux alongside Estrella’s look. I think visitors to the exhibit will enjoy seeing these pieces from the archive.

 What’s the most unusual item you have acquired from the James Bond films over the years?    

There isn’t anything that falls under the ‘usual’ category when it comes to Bond and the archive. We have pieces of 007 production history - including what’s left of a squashed film camera that a tank accidently ran over when filming GoldenEye. And we have props that are never seen on screen. I have Mr. White’s receipts for prescriptions and Vesper’s boyfriend Yusef’s Polish groceries from Casino Royale – all items that never appear in the film but add important depth and detail for the characters. 

 How did you go about deciding which pieces to include in the Lock & Co. x 007 exhibit?  And were there any unexpected treasures? 

Because we are celebrating Bond’s 60th anniversary on film, we wanted all six decades to be included. There are some hats that didn’t make the first wave of this exhibit that I do love – mainly because of space limitations. So perhaps we will change a few after a month or so. It’s wonderful to be able to show something as vintage as the Thunderball pilot’s cap and then take it all the way up to Bond’s full Day of the Dead look from Spectre (2015).

‘60 Years of James Bond Hats’ what does that mean to you?

 It’s a celebration of Bond style, the quality, and elegance the franchise represents. James Bond has been at the forefront of style since the start and it’s great to be able to celebrate an area that we haven’t focused on before - but have a rich heritage in… hats! And who better to do it with than Lock & Co. 

 What's your favourite hat from the 007 x Lock & Co. retail hat collection?

 I love both the Vicenzo hat and the Andrea hat - they are just exquisite, both in design and fabrication.

What’s your favourite hat from the Lock & Co. x 007 exhibit and why?

 Vesper’s Lock & Co. trilby – because I’d wear that – it’s a great looking hat. It’s only on-screen briefly when she arrives in Montenegro on the train on route to the Hotel Splendid in Casino Royale

Some of the pieces at the James Bond exhibit have never been seen before. Could you tell us a little bit more about the significance of these pieces? 

Yes, we’ve never exhibited Roger Moore’s clown hat from Octopussy or Maryam’s nurse hat from The Living Daylights – probably because those costumes were both ‘disguises’ that didn’t, in a single, look sum up their characters. But it is fun to re-visit those moments and plot lines.

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