Licensed To Thrill

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Nancy Heslin   Forbes Monaco

Shirley Bassey

Dame Shirley leaves a lot of imagination

WHO COULD EVER FORGET the 2013 Oscars? Gold spotlights dancing as Dame Shirley Bassey sashays across the stage, leans in to the mic and belts out a commanding “Goldfinger…”

And that dress. It’s hard to know whether the standing ovation was for her showbiz delivery or the way she wore her trademark glittery gown, which was designed by Isabell Kristensen (IK).

“When Isabell made the gold dress for my Oscar performance, I could move in it, I could lift my arms and nothing came out,” Dame Shirley said. “There are bad designers out there, relying on slits and too much exposed skin to sell their dresses.

“Isabell sells elegance and femininity…she’s all about charm and class.”

For Kristensen, the Goldfinger theme song is arguably as iconic as the 007 film itself. “Just as the music sets the tone of each Bond movie, the dress must immediately set the tone for Dame Shirley when she walks on stage to perform—the passion of Bond, the mystery, the action, the glamour, the risk, the allure. It must be bold.”

The hit for the 1964 Bond film shot Cardiff-born Bassey to international fame and, although she recorded two other songs for the 007 franchise, Diamonds Are Forever and Moonraker (she was also a contender for Thunderball and Quantum Of Solace), it is Goldfinger that continues to terrify her. In a 2016 BBC One Christmas Eve Special honoring the singer’s 80th birthday, the Monaco-based singer told David Walliams: “I know that note is coming at the end, and it’s very nerve-racking.”

It’s hard to image Dame Bassey rattled. Over six decades, the deep, honey-voiced soloist has sold over 135 million records and was the first Welsh singer to reach the top of the charts with As I Love You (1959).

For goodness sake, the History Repeating hitmaker worked with Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra; she has been sampled by Kanye West. In 2000, she was made a Dame for services to the performing arts.

Bassey, who welcomed her first great-grandchild in July 2018, shares Monaco’s 007 connection with Roger Moore (he lived in the Principality until his death in 2016) and Steven Saltzman, whose father Herschel co-produced the James Bond series with Albert R. Broccoli.

The Bond songstress is as legendary for her onstage outfits as for her comfortable candor.

In 2015, speaking at a “Shooting Star” book launch in London, she called out Beyoncé for her Met Gala outfit, saying she didn’t understand why today’s singers feel the need to “see who can wear the skimpiest outfit.

“In my day it was for stage only. You didn’t go out looking like that. When I saw the Met Ball the other day—excuse me.
«Yes my dance was sexy and my dress had slits down to here but I left a lot to the imagination.
I didn’t show everything.”

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Nancy Heslin   Forbes Monaco

Nancy Heslin is an established journalist and lifestyle writer. She has been the Editor-in-Chief of Forbes Monaco magazine (bimonthly in English) , since the magazine's 2nd issue . Launched in November 2018, Forbes Monaco is part of the Forbes family, with its 7 million readers and 71 million monthly website visitors worldwide.