Suits me, says Bond

The Press - Zest - - Fashion -

Through the last half­cen­tury and 23 of­fi­cial James Bond films, Ian Flem­ing’s su­per-spy has been played by seven ac­tors with 17 cos­tume de­sign­ers re­spon­si­ble for the look of agent 007 and the stylish garb he wears.

Across the span of those five decades, even the tra­di­tion­ally glacial pace of menswear trends looks like a fast-for­ward fash­ion of shifts in shape and fit when the cos­tumes are stud­ied.

Lapels widen and con­tract, blazer but­tons mul­ti­ply, sil­hou­ettes bal­loon and shrink.

High-end suits have been a sar­to­rial throughout, how­ever, from the mo­ment in 1962 when Sean Con­nery ap­peared on screen in Dr No in a suit cut by May­fair tai­lor An­thony Sin­clair, to the Bond suits from fash­ion de­signer Tom Ford in 2008’s Quan­tum of So­lace.

The way the tai­lored suits have been used has also changed. At first a re­flec­tion of Bond’s char­ac­ter, his suit has been a dis­guise in some films, a dap­per suit of ar­mour in oth­ers.

In the just-re­leased Sky­fall, di­rected by Sam Men­des, the suit func­tions much as a su­per­hero’s body-hug­ging uni­form, clothes whose pri­mary func­tion is to show­case the lean, mean killing ma­chine within.

The prove­nance of the lat­est suits has not changed – they are still the high-end, hand-tai­lored work of Tom Ford.

What’s dif­fer­ent this time is the cos­tume de­signer, Jany Temime, whose cred­its in­clude the Harry Pot­ter films. Temime con­sid­ered dress­ing Bond to be the kind of chal­lenge that would face a fash­ion de­signer brought in to up­date a longlived lux­ury fash­ion brand.

‘‘Ev­ery­body knows Bond, which gives him this al­most tran­scen­den­tal reach,’’ she says.

‘‘That is what makes him such an in­cred­i­ble char­ac­ter to de­sign for. I didn’t want to do a par­ody of Bond. I wanted it to be classy and mod­ern.’’

Temime con­sid­ers the suits sacro­sanct.

‘‘Bond al­ways wears a suit, he al­ways wears a tie. He’s a dan­ger­ous gen­tle­man – but he is a gen­tle­man. He works for the MI6, and MI6 works for Her Majesty. He dresses the way an English gen­tle­man should. That’s very im­por­tant.’’

So no mat­ter if Bond is dan­gling from an el­e­va­tor, rid­ing a mo­tor­cy­cle up a stair­case or fist-fight­ing atop a mov­ing train, he is dressed to the nines.

Temime tweaked the fit of Bond’s sig­na­ture suits to ac­cen­tu­ate the body be­neath.

‘‘I wanted Bond [and the ac­tor] to be able to move in the suits,’’ she says.

‘‘In Sky­fall, he runs, he fights and you can see his mus­cles mov­ing un­der the trousers and the shirts.

‘‘I also wanted to dress Bond in a way that you might al­most for­get he’s wear­ing a suit.

‘‘I think that’s the mod­ern ap­proach to a suit. It doesn’t look dressed up. It just looks easy­go­ing and right be­cause it fits ab­so­lutely per­fectly.’’

Any­one watch­ing the be­suited Daniel Craig run, jump, whirl and kick the liv­ing day­lights out of evil-do­ers will agree that Temime has suc­ceeded.

The var­i­ous Tom Ford suits, grounded in a grey or blue pal­ette, seem to move and stretch on our hero as if in­fused with Span­dex, al­though, and this is note­wor­thy, the suits are made from 100 per cent su­per-fine wool.

There is the sharp crease of a pocket hand­ker­chief at the left breast and a per­fectly knot­ted neck­tie that barely budges throughout the movie, thanks to a but­ton tab be­hind the knot that also keeps the col­lar points un­flap­pable.

When Bond breaks into a run, his suit jacket or over­coat flaps in the wind and bil­lows be­hind him ever so slightly, mak­ing it al­most im­pos­si­ble not to make the con­nec­tion be­tween coat and su­per­hero cape.

The per­cep­tion of Bond as su­per­hero is in­te­gral to 007’s en­dur­ing pop­u­lar­ity, says Rob Weiner, a hu­man­i­ties and fine arts li­brar­ian at Texas Tech Univer­sity and co-ed­i­tor of the book James Bond in Pop­u­lar and World Cul­ture: The Films Are Not Enough.

‘‘Bond is like the non­cos­tume equiv­a­lent of Bat­man in a lot of ways,’’ Weiner says, ex­plain­ing the char­ac­ter’s longlived ap­peal.

‘‘He gets to sleep with beau­ti­ful women. He goes to beau­ti­ful lo­cal­i­ties, drinks as much as he wants and never has to pay any con­se­quences. He can get out of any sit­u­a­tion more or less in­tact, and he lives a life of ad­ven­ture and in­trigue. How is that not cool?

‘‘Of course,’’ Weiner says, ‘‘it helps that there’s a cer­tain poise, suave­ness and panache that con­nects ev­ery Bond from Con­nery to Craig.

Los Angeles Times

Con­nery Bond: Old-fash­ioned tie knot won’t movea cen­time­tre, even if jet pro­pelled. Craig Bond: Anew and natty waisted, fit­ted TomFord suit.

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