When Sean Connery stepped on to the big screen in Dr No 50 years ago this month, he didn’t just embody a super spy with a nice line in gadgets and bons mots. He introduced us to the world’s best-dressed man – a man who casually unzips a frogman outfit to reveal a tuxedo, who can keep his suit buttoned during the most adrenaline-fuelled chase scene. Dylan Jones, editor of British GQ, says: “Bond is a true British style icon, as he represents everything a man aspires to be: gainfully employed, worldly, well-dressed, well-read, tough, handsome, a whizz with the ladies, with a gun under his bed.”
Bond’s style influence shows no sign of waning, with websites such as the US-based www.jamesbondwatches.com and the Dutch-based www.jamesbondlifestyle.com revealing the obsessiveness of Bond followers. And now Bondophiles can do more than sip martinis like their hero – they can dress like him too. Entrepreneur David Mason, who bought the rights to the name and archive of Anthony Sinclair, the British tailor who first outfitted Connery on camera, is offering bespoke versions of the original suits.
Mason and Richard Paine, a former apprentice to Sinclair who ran the business after Sinclair’s retirement in 1982, are selling replicas of an evening suit from Dr No, which features a single-breasted jacket with a silk satin shawl collar and turnback silk satin cuff, and a three-piece glen-check suit from Goldfinger (1964). Both suits are available to order in a bespoke version, from £3,500, and made-to-measure from £1,950, at the Savile Row tailors Meyer & Mortimer.
The replicas of the two suits were unveiled at the recent Designing 007 exhibition at London’s Barbican Centre, now set for a world tour. In an opening tableau, a model of Connery as 007 leans against Bond’s Aston Martin DB5 from Goldfinger, wearing the three-piece suit in which he wooed Pussy Galore. Also included was the midnight blue evening suit Connery wore in Dr No, playing chemin de fer at Le Cercle casino in London while flirting with Sylvia Trench, the first Bond girl.
To recreate the designs, Mason borrowed one of the few original Bond suits in existence from movie and TV memorabilia collector David Abberley, a project manager for Lloyds TSB in the City of London. He acquired the suit, made by Sinclair for Connery to wear in You Only Live Twice (1967), from the son of a technician who worked on the early films.
Abberley does not intend to wear his original suit. “That would be sacrilege,” he says. “I’ve had a special mannequin made to the right size and I display it in a glass case in my house.” Tony Gibbon, a partner in London-based property firm GM Real Estate, has ordered the Goldfinger suit and plans to buy the evening suit too, and have it adapted to wear at work. “I grew up with Bond and remain in love with him. Of them all, Connery is the man.”
By Eric Musgrave
The name’s Wilson, Michael Wilson
Naomie Harris, who plays an MI6 field agent given the task of shadowing James Bond in the soon-to-be-released Skyfall, summed up the predicament of every actress who has played a sidekick to 007. Describing her character Eve, she said: “She kind of sees herself as Bond’s equal. But she is not.”
Except when it comes to clothes, that is. Aside from the global exposure that results from appearing in the 007 series, another reward for Bond beauties is an outstanding wardrobe.
Bond may have reigned as the best-dressed man on screen for a half a century but his female associates have always flaunted finery to rival his impeccable tailoring.
Skyfall is no exception. For Harris, costumer Jany Temime selected pieces by Amanda Wakeley, one of the Duchess of Cambridge’s favourite designers, including a floor-length, strapless chartreuse evening gown for one of her big moments.
To heighten the air of mystery exuded by the film’s femme fatale Sévérine, played by French actress Bérénice Marlohe, Temime created a fleet of costumes referencing film noir, yet with a modern spirit. Aboard a yacht with Bond, for example, Sévérine prances barefoot in a long lean shift dress with a 1940s silhouette, although it was actually pulled from L’Wren Scott’s autumn/winter 2012 collection.
For Sévérine’s encounter with Bond in a Shanghai casino, Temime created an opulent evening dress in black satin embellished with 60,000 Swarovski crystals. Its form-fitting shape evokes the legendary strapless gown that Hollywood costumer Jean Louis created for Rita Hayworth to wear in the 1946 noir classic Gilda. Sévérine’s jewels in the casino scene, however, are modern gothic-inspired pieces designed by London jeweller Stephen Webster.
The tradition of using important jewellers and renowned designers to adorn 007’s women was established in the mid-1960s by Albert R. “Cubby” Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, the producing partners who created the Bond film series. Back then, only megastars such as Elizabeth Taylor could command fine jewellery or their preferred couturier to wear on screen. But Broccoli and Saltzman felt such apparel was needed in Bond films in order to transmit the same aura of luxury that Ian Fleming conjured in his bestselling spy thrillers.
When costumers and fashion designers collaborate to produce screen wardrobes, it is often a fraught process involving clashing egos and rivalry for screen credits. Yet a long line of Bond costumers – from Moonraker’s Jacques Fonteray to Lindy Hemming, who designed for five 007 films beginning with Golden Eye (1995) – have managed to work harmoniously with fashion’s finest names. “It is a huge amount of work,” concedes costumer Louise Frogley, who produced the wardrobe for Quantum of Solace (2008). Yet she recalls, with pleasure, working with Tom Ford, whom she appointed to style Daniel Craig’s Bond, and also Miuccia Prada, who created gowns for the film’s principal actresses, Olga Kurylenko and Gemma Arterton.
A fashion designer normally needs to make seven to eight reproductions of a Bond film costume as the clothes are often damaged by stuntmen during the fast-paced action scenes. Ford, however, had to make 85 repeats of the suit Craig sports in the pre-title sequence of Skyfall.
For all the hard work, the recognition of being associated with a Bond film is invaluable for a brand. Skyfall is weeks away from its release and Stephen Webster, for example, claims the attention generated by his jewels is already “massive”.
By Bronwyn Cosgrave, guest curator of ‘Designing 007, Fifty Years of Bond Style’. This Barbican Enterprises touring exhibition opens at Toronto’s TIFF Bell Lightbox on October 26
‘Skyfall’ opens on October 26 in the UK and November 9 in the US
Essence to thrill: Eau eau seven
Lady Gaga has one, so does Kate Moss ... even Justin Bieber has one, writes Beatrice Aidin. In the celebrity universe, you’re nobody until you have your own fragrance. So it should come as no surprise that James Bond, the world’s most famous spy, has a new scent in time for the release of Skyfall.
Of course, it’s a strange twist on the celebrity scent phenomenon, given that its inspiration is fictional, although there is a precedent in Avon’s Bond Girl 007 for women, launched on the back of Quantum of Solace in 2008. Professor James Chapman of Leicester University, author of Licence To Thrill: A Cultural History of the James Bond Films, says: “Bond is not a real person and if you think of him that way he is absurd. He is an ideological and cultural construct and a consumer and sexual fantasy.”
Bill Brace, vice-president of P&G Prestige, the creators of the 007 fragrance, says: “There are lots of celebrity fragrances and lots of fashion-based brands out there. But this project raised the question of how do you base a fragrance on a movie, a brand, a character and an identity that has extended for decades?”
Brace’s approach was to instruct the noses behind this eau de MI6 to avoid an overly literal interpretation, saying “the fragrance can’t just smell of martinis and guns”. Instead, they surrounded themselves with Bond memorabilia, and this led to apple for its British flavour, British lavender for Bond’s sensual side, fougère or fern for masculinity, vetiver for power and strength, and musk to make the fragrance linger.
When 007 launched at Harrods in the late summer, it sold out. Crucially, though, would Bond have worn it?
“Although Bond could identify Guerlain Oud and Chanel No 5, he never wore any cosmetics himself,” says Prof Chapman. “With pure cold war prejudice in the book From Russia with Love, Tatiana says that Russian men wear scent. Bond answers, ‘British men bathe.’”
James Bond 007, £32, www.harrods.com