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’.
14 thoughts on “Doug Darnell.”
Thank you for sharing this “news> DSB must be much saddened.
sad news indeed. No oter designer has understood Shirley like Doug. The way the gowns flowed and moved, raised at the front to prevent tripping. He also understood lighting and how the gown mioght `show`. My favourites were the black velvet with the spectacular orchid on the hip and the green with the arch of pearls at the back. The gowns he made for the under rated Welsh star Dorothy Squires were spectacular and invariably included aprofusion of ostrich feathers. Sadly Dorothy died in 1998. Rest in peace Doug.Can I suggest that the blog celebrates his life by posting orvrequesting submissions of all the gowns full length including the rarely seen ones as there were quite few not in the Christies sale in 2003.
Very sad, indeed. Mr. Darnell created the majority of Dame Shirley’s exquisite gowns. Remember when she personally thanked and applauded Mr. Darnell during the London Christie’s auction?
My condolences to Dame Shirley. They must have been close.
It is very sad,we last saw Doug …front row of the Roundhouse performance.
Nice picture of Doug in the 60s working on the hem of Shirley’s gown !
Can we say thankyou ? of course we can.
Thankyou Mr Darnell.
THANK YOU FOR THIS TRIBUTE DAVID. DOUG WAS A VERY TALENTED DESIGNER AND HAD A QUIRKY CHARACTER, AND HE WILL BE REMEMBERED FOR THIS. I AGREE WITH TERENCE, THE BLACK GOWN WITH HIP ORNAMENT WAS EXCEPTIONAL BUT MY OWN PERSONAL FAVOURITE OF ALL TIME IS THE GREEN WITH STRINGS OF PEARLS ON THE BACK WHICH, I UNDERSTAND, DOUG ACTUALLY BOUGHT BACK AT THE AUCTION.
I have 2 Darnell of London dresses on EBAY UK under the name of mikey.p or search on ebay for Dougie Darnell
Very sad – another part of Dame Shirley gone forever but never forgotten – R.I.P. Mr Darnell.
Very sad news. Some people like Mr. Darnell should never died ! His creativity was oustanding ! The perfect match his creations for the perfect body of Dame Shirley Bassey !
Thank you for your lovely tributes for my dear uncle and godfather, He will be sadly missed and leave a gapping hole in our hearts….
His funeral will take place on the 17th May at West London Crematorium At 3.30pm
Dear Bassey Blog,
Re: Douglas Darnell – RIP – 15th August 1933 to 25th April 2012
I was hoping that you might be able to help us in our research of Douglas Darnell and the relationship he had with Dame Shirley Bassey in designing some of her fabulous stage gowns. Douglas recently passed away at home and I have been given the task by his sister Linda to write an obituary for the ‘Stage’ newspaper.
Doug passed away very suddenly and without the opportunity to put down in writing information relating to his colourful and flamboyant career. We are aware that he was a very dear friend to DSB and the creator of many of Dame Shirley’s wonderful gowns.
Doug was a truly gifted person who was a genius in crafting some of the most beautiful gowns for some of the most glamorous woman in the world.
Doug’s client list over the years became a virtual who’s who of the rich and famous and his inspiration will live on every day in the wonderful creations he has left behind.
It would be wonderful if anyone could help us fill in some of the blanks and we would welcome any pictures or written text relating to the fabulous gowns that Douglas created for Dame Shirley.
I look forward to your replies.
Many thanks and kind regards.
J Martin (on behalf of Linda Darnell)
J martin , I would have thought Linda would have been a `fund` of information. The Christies catalogue 2003 for `50 years of glittering gowns is a good source. I had many concert brochures , all now donated to the London Theatre museum. Do not please forget the wonderful costumes Doug also designed for the late Dorothy Squires
I’m much saddened by the passing of Doug. I have only found out today (08.08.13) as I was looking for a way to contact Linda Darnell whose birthday is on the 15th of this month. I used to work with Linda back in the 90’s and became a friend of Doug through his sister. I am so sorry he passed away. If anybody knows a way that i could contact Linda I would be most grateful. I’m living in Brazil now and we lost contact over the years. Perhaps Julia Martin could help me! Thanks ever so much!
Dear Theo, If you could please send your contact details to email@example.com I will pass these onto Linda and ask her to get in touch with you. Your email and telephone number would be the best point of contact. Many thanks. Julia x