Doug Darnell.

It is with great sadness that the Bassey Blog has learnt of the death of Doug Darnell.  As fans of the Dame are aware Doug made many of Dame Shirley’s stage gowns throughout her long career.  Some of them were even given names by the fans such as the ‘Mermaid’ gown and ‘Tassel’ gown as well as the gown worn by Shirley on the cover of the ‘Something’ album.  He also designed a gown that started life in the 1950’s and was still being worn by Dame Shirley in the 1980’s although much altered from its original conception by then.  It was the ‘Diamond Gown’.  Dame Shirley wore this gown the very first time I saw her in concert in 1963.

Doug was also responsible for the ‘Catsuit’ which Dame Shirley wore a number of times.  Another creation was what became known as the ‘Gownless Evening Strap’ which was held together by one hook.  I saw her at the famous ‘Talk of the Town’ when she first wore it and there were gasps from the audience as she came back onto the stage halfway through the act having changed into it.  It was quite revealing and very daring for 1967!

As well as Dame Shirley, Doug also designed stage gowns for Dorothy Squires and his partner designed the gowns for Dusty Springfield.  The label of their fashion house was ‘Darnell of London’.

Shirley wearing the ‘Something’ gown by Doug Darnell


Shirley wearing the ‘Diamond’ gown and Doug adjusting the hemline.