“Bond. James Bond.” These little words; what power they hold. For the very mention of them conjures an image unsurpassed in its fantastical exoticism; a man of heady perfection: a portrait that seems to capture every essence of the man and the myth.
As fictional heroes go, there are few more celebrated, more successful than James Bond. He is the exemplary hero. On his strengths and flaws, thousands of unsuccessful characters have drawn, but he remains the emperor of his own arena. The last screen adventure saw a new Bond, the sixth man to play the legendary spy; Daniel Craig was for many an unusual choice in some ways. No one doubted his acting chops, but before he had even begun to read the script, people were questioning whether he actually qualified as a James Bond. The Bond that people had come to know was dark and sophisticated; Pierce Brosnan was surely one of the most appropriate representatives of this. Craig was blonde, and compared with the equally light haired Roger Moore, seemed to possess less elegance and more physicality. As far as style was concerned, the recent Casino Royale was almost a washout. Were it not for the black tie worn at the poker table, we might have been watching another JB: a certain Mr Bourne.
Indeed, it seems that the producers have decided that Bond’s future will be, sartorially, rather different. Brioni have been dropped as official clothiers and apparently, Dunhill are on board for Quantum of Solace, the awkwardly titled 22nd Bond feature. Seminally, this rejection of an Italian tailor reflects both the reversal in fortunes of English tailoring and also the intentional change of direction of the new wardrobe department. It might be that Bond’s wardrobe, like the motor car selection, comes full circle; it started with Aston Martin, and through other interesting and questionable choices, we are back with Aston Martin. As far as tailoring goes, it started with an English tailor and by George we are back with an English tailor.
Throughout the years of Bond, there has been one particular difficulty for the wardrobe department: how to make the supposedly camouflaged-for-ubiquity and discreet spy a standout; a remarkable individual for the men to admire and the women to crave. Too noticeable and Bond’s credibility as an efficient and effective spy is vanquished; too bland and he’d never have the appeal. From the Connery years of waistcoats and hats to the Brosnan era of smooth Italian cloth and open shirts, Bond’s wardrobe has walked that fine line rather successfully. Retrospectively, some of the styling looks wrong; flared trousers and large collars of the 1970s among the mistakes, but on the whole, Bond’s screen wardrobe has served the character well.
Craig himself is frequently seen wearing Dunhill, and some of the ensembles look suspiciously similar (see picture) to those seen on Connery in films such as Goldfinger and From Russia With Love. Could this be a sign that the styling for future films will be intentionally retro? Is Bond going to be smartened up once more? Or perhaps, Casino Royale was a clear indication that the new Bond is certainly not the old Bond; the fact that Bond hissed ‘Does it look like I give a damn?’ when asked how he would like his martini, that Craig appeared on the promotional posters, pouting, with the top button undone and the bow-tie dangling, certainly indicates that this could be the new 007. With Brioni gone, all bets are off. Dunhill could do either to Bond, and do each very well. They are more than competent and if their clothing of Craig is anything to go by, there is more spy-sartorial excitement to come.