Welcome to MI6 Headquarters

This is the world's most visited unofficial James Bond 007 website with daily updates, news & analysis of all things 007 and an extensive encyclopaedia. Tap into Ian Fleming's spy from Sean Connery to Daniel Craig with our expert online coverage and a rich, colour print magazine dedicated to spies.

Learn More About MI6 & James Bond →

How those trunks turned Bond from a male icon into a female fantasy

03-Nov-2008 • Bond Style

How extraordinary the power a pair of blue La Perla swimming trunks can have, writes Samantha Weinberg (author of the Miss Moneypenny Diaries triology) in The Daily Mail.

Inhabited by a buff Daniel Craig, this pair of - arguably a bit itsy - swimmers turned James Bond from the man every male wanted to be into the man every woman wanted to have.

Cinemas around the world were filled with women: mothers, daughters, hen parties and feminists. More women saw Casino Royale than any previous Bond film - and not for Vesper Lynd's glamorous dresses.

In the book Casino Royale, Ian Fleming wrote of Vesper's 'splendid protuberances, front and back'. But after the film, it was Daniel's bulge we were all talking about.

To say that the winning over of millions of new Bond fans was all down to Craig's ability to carry off tight pants, however, would be to undermine him - and us.

Sure, he looked great, and in common with plenty of otherwise liberated, intelligent women, I certainly wouldn't turn him away on a rainy night. But it was more than a pair of perfectly turned pecs; it was what they symbolised that made the difference.

As an author who has written a novel about Miss Moneypenny's adventures, I know that Ian Fleming's books are read almost exclusively by men.

It's not hard to see why: his Bond is brave and cruel, wedded to his job (killing people) and - with one brief exception, when he married the lovely Tracy di Vicenzo, only to see her shot barely hours later - to bachelordom. Women, for him, are an entertaining diversion, titillation, exercise.

In The Spy Who Loved Me, Bond infamously muses that 'all women love semi-rape' and, as he admits to Tiffany Case in Diamonds Are Forever, his perfect mate would 'make love as well as Sauce Bearnaise'. Not quite a man for our times.

The films were similarly unreconstructed. Bond was suave and ruthless, the girls adornments.

While Sean Connery was undeniably attractive, the denim romper-suited Roger Moore close to ridiculous, George Lazenby a joke, Timothy Dalton a little dull and Pierce Brosnan looked like a man who blowdried his hair - and reportedly needed a body double in his shower scenes because his legs were too puny.

The Bond formula was gadgets and bikinis. And as the cars got faster and the girls more pneumatic, so every man and boy continued to fantasise about being 007.

They dreamed of flying mini-helicopters, crashing Aston Martins and pulling Dr Christmas Jones.

At around the same time, though, metrosexuality became the fashion: sales of men's skin products soared and manicures began to fit their name. Women, meanwhile, got into Sex And The City.

Two years ago, Casino Royale changed all that. When Daniel Craig did his Birth of Venus impression coming out of the sea - like a male version of Ursula Andress - he turned from being the sexual predator into the totty. It was the first time Bond had been truly sexy since Connery.

That he killed with his bare hands but showed emotional vulnerability only added to his appeal. The opening chase scene dangling off cranes was thrilling; his brutal dispatch of an enemy agent in a bathroom chilling; and his tears at Vesper's demise were moving.

But it will still be the beach scene that we'll remember long after Craig has been consigned to a bath chair.

That scene single-handedly redefined Bond films by subconsciously acknowledging the equality - even primacy - of women.

All of a sudden, we were being given the opportunity to ogle. Bond was no longer a chauvinist, but an acceptable, heterosexual, thinking woman's Chippendale.

The point is that Craig's 007 came along just at the time when women were turning away from touchy-feely men and seeking an ideal of true masculinity again. In the Eighties and Nineties - the Brosnan era - we had rejected the sports-watching, curryeating Joe Six-Pack.

We wanted someone we could talk to and cook with; who could appreciate white linen sheets and was prepared to watch girlie TV on a Saturday night. In other words, certainly not James Bond.

The good men caught on pretty quickly. But then they started to overdo it: they began to insist that it was their job to make the Sauce Bearnaise.

And as we became more confident in our ability to rule the world and the home, so the new metrosexual type began to lose his sex appeal.

As new women, we realised we were capable of taking on a manly man - on our terms.

We wanted to watch the Olympics rather than Big Brother. We wanted to climb mountains as well as wear Roberto Cavalli - possibly both at the same time.
The new 007, wearing swimming trunks (or preferably a little less), was the perfect man to fulfil our desires.

In the new Bond film, Quantum Of Solace, which premieres next Wednesday, the Bond girl Olga Kurylenko appears on the film poster alongside Craig, suggesting her role is almost equal to his.

The film apparently starts an hour after Casino Royale ended - Bond is mourning Vesper's death and is hell-bent on revenge.
The title song is a duet, sung by Alicia Keys and Jack White. With such even-handed billing of the sexes, Quantum Of Solace promises to continue the precedent set by Casino Royale and run with it; it will be a film for men and women.

Except for one thing: Daniel Craig has reportedly refused to slip on his La Perlas again. Shame on him. But we'll be watching anyway.

James Bond is our kind of man and, trunks or no trunks, he's staying that way. How ironic that the toughest Bond for decades has attracted more women than men to the cult of 007.

Discuss this news here...

Open in a new window/tab