Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig.
A list of names that is synonymous with one man – James Bond. Since its inception back in 1953, by author Ian Fleming, the James Bond franchise has gone on to become an internationally recognised powerhouse industry, moulding actors into generation-defining icons, creating the famous Bond girl and permitting every guy to ask for his drink shaken, not stirred. For the last 50 years, the 007 agent has been outfoxing, outwitting and overpowering his enemies, all the while racking up a mind-boggling amount of beautiful notches on his bedpost. Incredibly suave, charming and intelligent, it’s no surprise that Mr Bond has become an aspirational figure for guys all over the world. While his globe-trotting and death-defying antics might not be attainable for the general majority of the male species, the spy’s sartorial style is certainly something we can all learn from. As well as trumping his opponents in every aspect of international espionage, James Bond has outdressed everyone from Dr. Julius No to Auric Goldfinger, all the while operating on a licence to kill.
When creating the character of Bond, it is believed that Ian Fleming chose an “anonymous, pared down version of his own wardrobe” and while, over the years various stylists and directors have helped to mould Bond’s look, it is from Fleming’s iconic template they work. Fleming himself was an impeccable dresser, if not slightly more lavish than his most famous protagonist. He chose ‘off-Row’ tailors [tailors just off Savile Row] for his own attire, but James Bond’s tailors are never revealed in any one of Fleming’s books. The author has admitted that this often posed a problem, as it often became hard to reconcile his jet-setting character with reality. However, this is what makes Bond such an aspirational figure and readers and viewers alike are willing to suspend disbelief when Bond grapples with villains and emerges suavely unscathed, with mere scratches on his bespoke suit.
When Sean Connery appeared in Dr. No wearing a pared down, single-breasted grey suit, he set the stylish benchmark for the character’s dapper apparel. The suit was designed by Anthony Sinclair, and the suit became known as the ‘Conduit Cut’ (as his studio was on Conduit St). Bond makes no reference to his suit’s origins, other than to say it is from Savile Row, and from Connery to Craig, the classic look which was established in Dr. No has remained as constant as his Bond-girl dalliances.
It’s hard not to describe Bond’s style in generic, overused adjectives – his look is classic, iconic and timeless, but it deserves so much more than such a regurgitated, clichéd description. It’s difficult to think of a more stylish male character in literature or film and there certainly hasn’t been one who embodies Bond’s endless charm and predilection for thrill-seeking. His clothes are a reflection of his lifestyle – they are made to suit and reflect him. From Russian rumblings to Caribbean canoodling, James Bond’s clothing is always suitable to the occasion.
Over the years, directors have been conscious of era and as the decades have progressed, Bond’s style has simultaneously evolved, whilst still adhering to Fleming’s original vision. Earlier movies saw the likes of Connery and Moore essentially wearing suits exclusively, but as the franchise moved into the 21st century, actors such as Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig brought a touch of new-world charm to the spy’s look. Of course, Connery was never shy of donning a pair of chinos when the occasion demanded it, but recently, Bond’s look has seen him incorporating well-fitting jeans and a smart polo shirt alongside the trusted tuxedo made famous by Connery. Proving that Bond can do casual, no one will ever forget Daniel Craig’s infamous speedo scene in Casino Royale. This aspect of his look might not be the kind of thing us Irish holiday-makers will sport during our summer getaway, but his loose-fitting linen suits in the Bahamas are an excellent lesson in appropriate dressing for an occasion.
As well as a successful career in international espionage and womanising, James Bond can add ‘style icon’ to his list of achievements. With 50 years of style and espial dominance under his belt, the 007 secret-agent has well and truly earned that Martini. Shaken, not stirred…of course.