Of course, given that Ian Fleming’s Bond did live in a flat just off the King’s Road, it was all too appropriate that Proud Chelsea was the location for such an exhibition, attended by the Terry O’Neill himself on that evening. We were greeted upon entrance with different choices of beverage – I of course chose the classic Vodka Martini, made with Chase Vodka, which sponsored the evening, shaken not stirred with the perfect tartness of an olive. My companion, fearing the stronger drink, reached for the Gin and Elderflower cocktail, while waitresses continually whizzed past carrying variously shaped, colourful canapés on large trays. I couldn’t resist a lobster caviar cone and bite sized morsels of sushi, but had to force myself away from the rare beef croutons and brie oozing from bruschetta to focus on the most important objects of attention: the photographs themselves.
The exhibition consisted of 37 photos in total, all beautifully presented and composed, with some of the highlights being O’Neill’s work from Diamonds are Forever with Connery; shot in Las Vegas and invoking his renowned, enduring charisma. O’Neill’s photographs perfectly encapsulated what it means to be Bond, both on and off the screen. Meanwhile, the Bond girls, Jane Seymour, Ursula Andress, Honor Blackman and their intimate portraits provide the sultry provocativeness essential to James Bond. With limited edition prints of all the work in the Proud Gallery on sale throughout the exhibition, no serious 007 fan can afford to miss this exhibit which anticipates the release of Skyfall in November.
Clutching a goody bag each and having munched my way through the caviar and sipped maybe one too many shaken martinis, we decided to head on towards Brompton Road to continue our night. We perched ourselves al Fresco, able to courageously face the cold 007 style with the martinis insulating our stomach, and decided on two rather expertly made Expresso Martinis. Conceived in 1972, La Brasserie is a little bit of Paris in the heat of South Kensington, showcasing all day dining and drinking in that rarely breached heaven between restaurant and café. Although unfortunately we did not sample the cuisine, the delightful French menu alongside raving reviews definitely ensure we will go back rather too soon to try it out for ourselves, not to mention exploring further the rather lengthy list of cocktails. On this occasion, service was impeccable at a rather late hour and the Expresso Martini topped with just enough froth and caffeine to send us safely back home.
ALL ABOUT BOND: Photographs by Terry O’Neill was from 13 September until 4 November 2012 at Proud Chelsea, 161 King's Road, London, SW3 5XP. For more information on current/future exhibitions, visit www.proud.co.uk. LA BRASSERIE: 272 Brompton Road London SW3 2AW Tel: +44 207 581 3089 www.labrasserielondon.com