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The Spy Who Came out of the Closet - Part 5

19 December, 2006

Bond gets real: the suits in Casino Royale - and how we got there.

Bond's wardrobe for Casino Royale - as with the entire film - displays some revolutionary twists that are firsts for the series. The 'clean sheet' approach to the entire film also applies to Bond's clothing choices and for the first time since the early Connery films, we see a Bond looking comfortable in casual clothing.

Drop down to the end of the article for a current list of all the known clothing brands worn by Bond in Casino Royale.

Suits you, sir...

In general there is a much more casual feel to Bond's entire wardrobe for CRwhich, as well as being a conscious decision by the film-makers in attaining a new tone for the film, must be attributed to the general trends in men's fashion in the 21st century: the dress-down culture is now firmly in place and as with the rest of the world, Bond is finally moving with the times.

To fully appreciate the new changes, it's necessary to examine what has gone before. When the film series first started, Bond was not a particularly smart dresser; ok, he wore suits, but that was because men generally wore suits far more regularly (take a look at the rest of the cast) and Connery-Bond was certainly no Dandy. Bond wore suits in situations that might not seem so formal today, purely because this was expected by British men of the times. Sure, his were supposedly made in Savile Row, but the colours and shapes of the suits, shirts and ties were sober and contemporary rather than overtly fashionable - nothing stood out. And when the occasion called for it, the Fleming and Connery-Bonds were never slow to jump into a pair of chinos (Fleming even mentioned jeans) and an open necked, short sleeved or polo shirt.

Where did it all go wrong?

Roger MooreOver the years the early films and their imagery became iconic, and more often than not Connery was photographed wearing a suit in almost every situation - frequently an action scene - and this became an association in the public consciousness. However out-of-step it seemed with his situation or 1970s, 1980s & 1990s culture in general, Bond wore a suit. Although Connery's wearing of the suit was usually justified by his situation, society was changing by the time the Moore-era came along. Seventies' Bond increasingly stood out from, rather than blended in with his contemporaries. Soon, and possibly encouraged by Moore's own fine dress sense and wit, the idea of Bond in a suit and tie for many of the action scenes became one of the series' in-jokes along with the other formula elements EON carried around for so long. Casual wear in the Moore-era usually meant a blazer or sports jacket, sometimes the safari shirt or jacket, once a blouson-style - but Moore's casual wear always had a very formal air about it and somehow he always seemed more comfortable in a suit.

Although Moore could largely get away with the tailor's dummy act as a form of irony, confusion reigned by the time of Dalton's tenure. Although TLD was billed as a re-boot of sorts, the film-makers were not brave enough to show the courage of their convictions and abandon all of the successful series formula elements altogether, and the resulting film can sometimes feel like an uneasy mix of Moore-film lightness and Dalton's desire to play Fleming's darker Bond. Dalton's wardrobe choices during TLD were generally a success, toning-down the excesses of the 1970s and mixing sober suits in appropriate settings with some contemporary casual dress. But again, the casual dress has a formality to it; take a look at the first meeting with Kara for example, where we see formal shoes and trousers with a casual leather jacket. The collar of a formal shirt neatly splayed over a chunky-knit jumper. The later scenes with the chinos and short jacket were perhaps more successful, but like the whole film, it's an odd mix.

Encouraged by their first tentative steps into so-called 'gritty realism', LTKushered-in a much tougher 1980's Miami-Vice style of film. LTK was a brave attempt at something new for the series and trying to tinker with the formula, and the US scenes were very reminiscent of Fleming's LALD. Trouble was, the film series had become an institution through its promotion of Bond's signature 'Britishness', and this story presented few scenes in which the character was able to show this element to good effect.

From a wardrobe point of view, this presented a quandry in that, apart from the Casino scene the story lacks any particular scenes in which Bond is required to wear a suit (I'll discount the wedding on the grounds that the suit looks like it was hired by Felix). The audience had come to expect Bond to wear a suit despite the setting, so we are left with an uneasy mix in that the character seems unsure of what to wear in this new environment. Although there are a few scenes in which he wears casual clothes better than anyone since Connery (the Hemingway House for instance), for some strange reason he's stuck in a formally-cut grey suit and formal shirt without a tie for a large part of the film, however uncomfortable and incongruous it appears.

Enter the Dandy

With a lengthy period of reflection between LTK & GE, EON decided to play it safe and not only go back to their formula elements, but almost parody them. The DB5 was brought out of hibernation, Q resumes his Moore-era silliness, the Moneypenny scenes were lengthened and given far more innuendo (almost worthy of a Carry On film), and Bond himself starts to dress like a cartoon Dandy. The suits were Italian and conspicuously well-cut (still not Savile Row), and Brosnan-Bond becomes the best-dressed man in the room, if not the world. Casual clothing for Brosnan invariably meant 'slightly less formal', with a linen suit or blazer, brogues and even the odd cravat. There's no argument that Brosnan looked good (he certainly knew how to carry himself in a suit), just that most of the time he looked inappropriate for his surroundings (grey suit on arrival in Kazakhstan?), standing out from, rather than blending in with the crowd. Perhaps MI6 had adopted a new policy of hiding in plain sight? Only once did Brosnan appear to dress down: the Hawaiian shirt in DAD. Good in theory, but on Brosnan it seemed so out of character that, if anything, he stood out more than usual (especially while chomping on that huge cigar).

All well and good - EON's plan worked like a shot of Botox; the franchise wasn't really any different to how it had always been, just glossier. Brosnan-Bond was successful for a whole new generation. But you can't parody a parody (Bond was never intended to be a serious spy) for too long and hope to keep getting away with it. The joke of the always immaculate, tie-twiddling Brosnan (even under water!) started to wear thin after a while and by the time of DAD the whole concept needed more than Botox to hide the wrinkles, it needed a fresh blood transfusion.

The second coming

And so came Casino Royale. Fans were outraged as they read of the lack of Brosnan, the gunbarrel sequence, PTS, Q & Moneypenny scenes. There was even talk of no dinner suit - imagine that! Yet, why on earth should Bond wear a dinner suit in every film? Imagine how hard it is for the writers to contrive that situation in the last 20 films: lunch at the Eifel Tower? Drinks in Cairo? Backgammon in India, during the day? A Las Vegas Casino? Were all these situations entirely appropriate for such formal dress?

daniel craig casino royale madagaskarCraig-Bond is being promoted as Fleming-Bond: more serious, but still with a twinkle of irony rather than full-blown guffaws. And a serious spy needs to blend in with his environment like every good spy should. Not since the novels of LALDMRDN,OHMSS have we seen such a convincing mix of formal but sober suits, mixed with casual clothes to suit the occasion; think back to the literary Bond's faded windcheater, his yellowing houndstooth suit, his black canvas jeans with rope-soled sandals.

And Craig wears his casual clothes well. His loose-fitting shirt over t-shirt was perfect for blending-in with the crowd and climbing all over a crane. His cream/grey suit with white linen shirt looked correct in the Bahamas. His casual suit with open-necked shirt during his first kill looked entirely right for the situation, his leather jacket was just the thing for rescuing planes from mad bombers. Nothing flashy, just right for each of the situations he found himself in. He's not Jason Bourne who seems to be perpetually on the run, grabbing whatever clothing comes to hand - Bond merely dresses to suit the occasion. The only caveat with taking this approach is that the casual clothes will be what dates the film more than anything else when we look back in 10 or 20 years time, and Casino Royale might suffer more criticism than other Bond films in this regard. If that's the price we pay for more authenticity, then so be it.

The plot of CR demanded formal and evening suits quite legitimately (for once), and good use was made of the latter as a minor plot and defence device. But there's more insight here than there seems at first glance: Bond's cover is as a wealthy gambler in Montenegro. As such, Mi6 has provided him with the car and presumably the watch and clothes to match. His suits are beautifully tailored (alas, still not in Savile Row) and tasteful rather than conspicuous. The colours are sober and his ties are subtle (unlike Brosnan's loud geometrics). But the most important thing is that Bond finally wears a suit only where the occasion demands.*

bond casino royale suit(*Ok, the final scene with Mr. White is open to artistic licence; maybe he needed a formal suit to get past the guards, who knows? I'll give him the benefit of the doubt as the moment is pure Bond at its best and he needs to look the part).

Craig looks comfortable in his suits, and what does Vesper say - something along the lines of "You wear them with such disdain" - a perfect Fleming attitude (see 'Closet' article 3) and something that some of the Bond actors seem to miss in their performances. The script also benefits from the scene where Bond is presented with the evening suit, injecting a surprising amount of insight into his attitudes and tastes: we know that Bond has his own evening suit, but immediately recognizes the cut and quality in this replacement, harking back to scenes from Fleming such as those with Goldfinger or Count Lippe where Bond is able to identify the cut of a man's suit. It wouldn't be an overstatement to say that we can learn more about Bond's tastes and attitudes towards his clothes in this film than we can glean from the bare scraps in the previous twenty.

While the scriptwriters deserve enormous respect for condensing this Fleming attitude to just a bare few lines, Lindy Hemming must take the credit for balancing Bond's casual and formal wardrobe so well on this film. Yes, she was also responsible for the dandification of the Brosnan films but that was right for the time, the ironic tone of those films and Brosnan's smooth charm. With the new direction and a new Bond who's a little rougher around the edges there is more scope for versatility.

Does Craig wear a suit as well as Brosnan?

Does Craig wear a suit as well as Brosnan? Does anyone wear a suit as well as Brosnan? I truly believe that man came out of the womb with a straight back and a nice three-piece. But Craig looks entirely happy and not self-conscious in his suits (unlike Dalton or the Dr. No Connery), which is good enough for me.

The point here is that Craig's character is pretty much in keeping with Fleming's writing: he wears the clothes that are appropriate for his situation and when the occasion demands his suits are more than capable of the task without being overtly style or fashion conscious. And you can't ask for more than that.

casino royale poster

Nothing is perfect though, and I do have one sour note: wearing the bowtie undone for the CR poster was one thing, there's almost an inverted snobbery in the fact that his tie isn't a pre-tied version and the slightly dishevelled air suits Craig's new interpretation of the character. But taking his jacket off during the latter half of the game was unacceptable and looked awful - reminiscent of all those young men you see at weddings who can't wait to get out of their jacket and tie. Not done, not Bond.

So, what will come on the clothing front in Bond 22? It's entirely possible that EON will be carried away with enthusiasm for Bond's casual wardrobe in the mistaken belief that this is what fans like. The contrast of Bond wearing everything from the T-shirt to the Tux is what made CR so enjoyable from a wardrobe perspective, and a unique selling point of the character that seperates him from Ethan Hunt or XXX. I only hope that the next film will contain scenes that put Bond in aspirational situations that require the suits, to contrast with his grittier clothes. The contrast is the thing and Craig is much more of an everyman character than Moore or Brosnan - something for everyone.

Known Casino Royale Clothing (for Bond):

  • Brioni supplied the formal suits and evening wear (the evening suit alone is said to have cost around £6000).
  • Turnbull and Asser are credited with supplying the formal shirts (handmade) and ties - though this has been disputed by T&A in LA who claim that Brioni supplied the formal shirts while T&A only supplied the dress shirt and tie. It's also known that Ted Baker. supplied at least two of the ties.
  • John Lobb supplied many of the shoes from their ready to wear collection. Lobb stated that 2 styles - Becketts and Luffield - were supplied for use in CR. However, from studying stills, others think Bond only uses different variants of the Luffield throughout the film. Bond also wore a pair of Lobb Romsey boots in the 'M's Apartment' scene. It's believed that the suede chukka boots used in the bathroom fight scene were also Lobb Romseys (in Tobacco Suede) but with an extra rubberised sole added by the production department (often done for stunt work).
  • Grigio La Perla made the swimming trunks to Hemming's own designs.
  • Sunspel made most of the casual wear including polo shirts, pullovers, t-shirts, tropical shirt, underwear etc to Hemming's own designs.
  • Omega supplied two styles of wristwatch: the Planet Ocean on a black rubber strap (2900.50.91) and the Seamaster (2220.80) on the stainless steel strap.
  • Persol made the sunglasses, model nos. 2244 & 2720.
  • Craig wears Converse Jack Purcell OTR Ankle boots (in the 'Chocolate and Paprika' colour option) during the Madagascar crane fight sequence. Interestingly, the orange flashes were blacked-out for the film.
  • Ted Baker supplied the linen 'mink' coloured trousers (worn in the Ocean Club & airport scenes) from their 2005 line.
  • S.T.Dupont (Paris) made the Casino scene cufflinks
  • Armani made the leather jacket (retail around $4000).
  • Gieves & Hawkes supplied the white braces (with gold clips) from the Casino scenes
  • Eagle eyed fans have identified Nike Air Articulate II's being worn during the Venice chase scenes.
  • Richard Pell (at silvershopgifts.com) supplied Bond's silver money clip.

Unknown Clothing:

  • The casual blue suit from the gunbarrel bathroom scene (possibly Ted Baker linen?).
  • The long 'Pea Coat' (possibly by Brioni?)
  • Other miscellaneous items such as the trousers from the crane sequence, grey suit when arriving in the Bahamas, etc.

Any help identifying the above items would be much appreciated.

Special thanks to:
AJB members Sruzgar and David 'Mantis' Zaritsky for researching the information on John Lobb shoes, Gieves & Hawkes braces and various other items. 

Mi6.co.uk for the interview with Lindy Hemming. 

And to all those AJB007.co.uk forum members who have contributed to the list of clothing used in CR.

© 2006-2007 Bill Tanner

First published on ajb007.co.uk


All copyrights for products, logos, images etc are held by their respective owners. Bond Lifestyle is not responsible for these articles, please take any queries up with the author.

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Comments

In defense of Craig removing his jacket during the final poker hand in Casino Royale, I see at least three reasons.

First, his character was just poisoned. I would have ditched the tie, too.

Second, they are playing poker, with the distinction being they are allowed to touch the cards (in contrast to, say, Vegas blackjack). Removing the jacket when he is about to beat Le Chiffre shows that he isn't cheating to win (no card up his sleeve).

Third, for the final hand, Le Chiffre is wearing all black while Bond, sans jacket, is now wearing all white. From a film making perspective, the shot is meant to be symbolic, black versus white, good versus evil.

I know that the ties are all Turnbull and Asser. Houndstooth Tie - Dark Navy and Burgundy for the train scene. In the Relationship Briefing scene it is the Houndstooth Tie - Dark Navy and White. For the final scene it is the Houndstooth Tie - Grey and Silver White Hope this helps. J
Agreed. I've always laughed at the criticism of Bond removing his jacket during the poker game in CR. I'm sorry, but if the character is supposed to be seen as pragmatic and sensible, then he truly wouldn't give a damn about such a supposed "faux-pas". Linking it to young men removing their jackets at wedding dinners is completely silly. I don't know many men who are risking what Bond was in that scene, unless you count one's own liver. Formality goes out the window when common sense and real-risk are tangible items on the table.

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