A collection of Bond diva Shirley Bassey’s dresses is going on show next week ahead of an auction in the name of charity.
50 of the magnificent gowns- one for each year that Miss Bassey has been in showbusiness- will be on display to the public prior to their auction which will be held by Christies on September 18th.
The 66-year-old singer from Tiger Bay is selling her unique collection to raise money for the Dame Shirley Bassey Scholarship at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff and the Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospital Appeal.
She admitted that being seperated from the dresses will be a difficult thing for her to do; each one has reinforced her image as the glamorous, larger-than-life singer of such classic Bond themes as Goldfinger and Diamonds Are Forever, and these themes, along with her inmitable style have been ingrained in the consciousness of everyone, Bond fans and non-Bond fans alike.
“Parting with these beautiful gowns will be an emotional experience as they have brought me great success in my career and have been loved and admired by so many…I feel proud knowing I wore these gowns,” she said. “I love them all.”
All the dresses being auctioned at Christie’s are the work of Ms Bassey’s favourite designer, Douglas Darnell.
Below are descriptions of just four of the dresses up for sale to the highest bidder this month.
- A sleeveless stage gown, known affectionately by Bassey as “the diamond dress”, which is encrusted with thousands of Swarovski aurora borealis crystals and weighs at an incredible 13lb (6kg), this is the earliest piece in the auction, having been made in 1955.
- A gold and silver sequinned and beaded gown associated with her first hit, the 1964 James Bond theme tune Goldfinger.
- A black velvet gown with a three-dimensional orchid made from crystals It is one of Ms Bassey’s favourites.
- A cat suit of natural coloured chiffon lavishly embellished with Swarovski aqua marine topaz and aurora borealis crystals – complete with matching coat – which Dame Shirley wore during her 60th Birthday Concert at Althorp Park in 1997.
The entire collection is expected to fetch more than £50,000 charity.
One company which has benefitted from Ms Bassey’s love of glitz and glamour over the years is the Austrian crystal group Swarovski, whose gems have been used in many of her outfits.
“It is a wonderful opportunity to be working together with Christie’s and Dame Shirley on such a noble event in order to raise money,” said company vice-president Nadja Swarovski.
Wealthy fans are bound to bid for the dresses Christie’s deputy chairman Jussi Pylkkanen, added : “It is a tremendous tribute to Dame Shirley that, after 50 years at the pinnacle of the music industry she has taken a momentous decision to sell her famous dress collection.
“The exhibition, like the auction, promises to be a dazzling event and we look forward to raising a significant sum for the charities concerned.”
The auction will take place at Christie’s, King Street, St James’, London, on Thursday, 18 September at 8:15pm BST.