The Cat Suit

Diamonds Are Forever is just one of the fascinating objects being spruced up at the V&A museum in a new TV series.
A new series on BBC2 takes you behind the scenes of Victoria & Albert Museum.
Secrets Of The Museum tells the stories behind some of the priceless objects.
It includes pieces such as Dame Shirley’s favourite ostrich feather catsuit.

Home to more than 2.3 million objects spanning 5,000 years of human ingenuity, the Victoria & Albert Museum’s collection covers fashion and photography, sculpture and ceramics, architecture, theater and performance. (Mail online)

Last year, due to the pandemic, it closed for the first time since a brief shutdown in the Second World War, but the break gave its conservators, curators and technicians the chance to restore some of the artifacts.

Now a new series of Secrets Of The Museum takes you behind the scenes, and tells the stories behind the priceless objects…
She wore the outfit on the record cover for the Bond theme tune Diamonds Are Forever and it originally had bell bottoms decorated with turquoise feathers, but was later adapted with straighter legs (pictured)

Dame Shirley Bassey’s favourite outfit from a career that began in 1953 and shows no signs of stopping is this shimmering nude-coloured silk chiffon and net catsuit.

Heavily embroidered with glass beads and sequins, it was snapped up by the V&A at a charity auction. ‘We were lucky,’ says senior curator Simon Sladen.

Now aged 84, the Tiger Bay singer has worn the catsuit many times. It was designed in 1969-70 by Douglas Darnell, who said of Dame Shirley, ‘I know her figure inside out, and which are the best bits to show.’

The catsuit originally had bell bottoms decorated with turquoise ostrich feathers, but was later adapted with straighter legs. As she twisted and moved on stage though, the fabric suffered splits.

Once repaired, the catsuit is displayed on a mannequin with a matching full-length cape, embellished with aquamarine sequins and the ostrich feathers.

Shirley was pictured wearing the outfit on the record cover for the Bond theme tune Diamonds Are Forever, and under the light Simon spots that the sequins are in a diamond pattern.

‘Another link to Diamonds Are Forever,’ he says. ‘I hope we’ve done her justice.’