In just a few seconds, Ursula Andress, with her sculpted silhouette on a Jamaican beach, captivates us in the first part of the James Bond saga. A portrait of the bikini that turned the young actress into a universal star.
An idyllic beach, the whisper of the palm leaves brushed by the wind, and an enchanting voice that pulls Sean Connery, aka James Bond, out of his daydream… This was in 1962, at the premiere of the first film in a long saga that still continues today. This voice belongs to Ursula Andress, an actress who was little-known at the time, but who shot to global stardom thanks to one scene and a piece of clothing. Coming out of the water like Botticelli’s Venus, Honey Ryder reaches the shore dripping wet, tanned, and sculpted in a bikini that has gone down in history. Ursula Andress and the costume designer, Tessa Prendergast, worked together to create this legendary piece. It consists of a front knot bra and triangle-shaped bottoms, all made of ivory cotton. What is so special about this simple two-piece outfit is a belt that sits at the waist and a slot for holding a dagger. This detail gives literal meaning to the “femme fatale” archetype that Honey Ryder embodied.
The bikini that started the revolution
Years later, when asked about the impact of this scene, Ursula Andress admitted that, although Dr. No opened many doors for her, she didn’t understand what it was about that moment that got people so worked up. Yet, in order to understand all matters at hand, we must consider the context. While in France the bikini was already well established, mostly thanks to the icons Brigitte Bardot and Dalida, the first James Bond film was a game-changer in the United States, where Puritanism was still very much prevalent. When it came out in the early 60s, at the dawn of the sexual revolution, the film pushed the bikini worn by Ursula Andress as a call to discover the female form. After the James Bond premiere, the two-piece bikini spread like wildfire on beaches all over the world.
Although there have been many tributes to the Jamaican beach scene, nothing can beat how the James Bond franchise recreates the moment’s torrid, dangerous feeling on screen. In 2002, in Die Another Day, Halle Berry played the new Bond girl alongside Pierce Brosnan at the height of his charm. The gorgeous actress emerges from the water in a similar scene, donning a bright orange bikini with a belt and a dagger at the waist. It is a tempting sight that has become one of the trademarks of the James Bond saga, since Daniel Craig also has his moment in the water. In Casino Royale, the British actor rises to the surface and walks to the shore just like the legendary Honey Ryder, revealing his sculpted figure in light blue swimming trunks.
If you liked the article, do not hesitate to read our blog.