When it was announced that there was another film being made featuring a gentleman spy I was skeptical. After fifty years of James Bond dominating the British spy genre, it seemed that a similar type of film would serve only as a mockery or, at best, a caricature of the world’s most famous spy. I am pleased to say that my skepticism was unfounded. Matthew Vaughn and the cast and crew of Kingsman not only succeed in creating a distinct film, they also accept the inevitable comparison to the Bond franchise and fully embrace it. I won’t be doing a review or summary of the film, for that you’ll have to go see it; I will only be focusing on the wardrobe, which I’ll tell you now, was quite pleasing. All of the clothing for Colin Firth, which is what I’ll be discussing, was sourced from many reputable brands and is now consolidated into one collection and distributed by the British retailer Mr. Porter.
Of paramount importance to any Kingsman is his suit. Not only is it his uniform, it is also “the armor of a gentleman” and, as Colin Firth wonderfully explains, “is bulletproof.” Although the actual suits aren’t as impervious to bullets, they were made by Cheshire Bespoke, a reputable Savile Row house which has recently started offering not only bespoke services but also made-to-measure and ready-to-wear clothing. I applaud the costume designer for Kingsman, Arianne Phillips, for resisting the urge to dress the characters in trendy, skin-tight suits, but instead in a classic British fashion.
The fabrics, from the British mill Dormeuil, are simply beautiful. Phillips has found classic patterns yet integrated them in a modern way, resulting in the characters looking respectable and mature, but not old or stodgy. Although the “standard” suit is navy with a white chalk stripe, Firth also wears a very nice Glen Plaid suit. Michael Caine might be the most adventurous, as he is seen in a dark grey suit with a pink windowpane. Phillips even dresses the characters in tweed and flannel suits, which are rarely seen anymore outside of Downton Abbey, much less in mainstream media.
Absent from fashion in the recent years is the double-breasted suit. Distinctly British, the double-breasted suit was last popular in the early-to mid eighties before falling out of fashion in the nineties. I am pleased to report that Kingsman did not play slave to fashion as Ms. Phillips dressed the cast of Kingsman almost exclusively in double-breasted suits. The suits are cut in a classic British style; 2×4 double breasted, straight shoulders, roped sleeve heads, nipped waist, full chest, double vents, and flap pockets. The suits are naturally cut with peaked lapels, as all double-breasted jackets should be, and are adorned with particularly beautiful hand-made buttonholes.
My only gripe with the suits of Kingsman is that they fit Colin Firth just a bit too tightly. Even when Firth is standing at rest you can see a small amount of pulling around the fastening button of the jacket. This may be due to some weight gain between the fitting (all of the suits for Firth were made bespoke) and the filming, but even then the production team should have been able to let the waist out just a bit, as most bespoke suits are made with extra fabric in the side and back seams to accommodate fluctuations in weight. However, as Firth was almost always in motion, this small defect in the fit didn’t bug me too much and didn’t distract from the overall beauty of the suits.
Although the suits were the main focal point of the film, it would be remiss to neglect the other aspects of the wardrobe. The shirts for the film were all made by Turnbull and Asser, one of the oldest shirt makers in London and (coincidentally?) the preferred shirt maker for the James Bond films. They were all made with classic spread collars and double cuffs in a pristine white cloth.
The shoes, made by George Cleverly, were unremarkable, but elegant in their simplicity. Although Firth’s character incorrectly states that Oxfords are “any formal shoe with open lacing,” the shoes in the film are made in true oxford style with closed lacing. The differences between the two styles of lacing are shown below. Derbys (open lacing) on top, oxfords (closed lacing) on the bottom.
Also of note are the glasses, which Firth wears throughout most of the film. Although I applaud Phillips for all the other costume choices in the film, I cannot help but feel as if the eyewear, provided by Cutler and Gross, is out of place among the rest of the clothing. I understand the need for a pair of glasses, as they are used as a plot device, but surely something better could have been selected. Mark Strong wears a more conservative pair of glasses, which I think would have been a better choice for Firth’s character, but at the very least Firth’s tortoiseshell glasses could have been made in a more elegant shape.
Although there are other accessories in the film (watches by Bremont; ties by Drake’s of London, which were very nice; umbrellas by Swaine Adeney Brigg; hats by Locke & co, which is also a preferred brand of James Bond; and cufflinks by Deakin & Francis), they are not as prominent as the items I have discussed. Also, by omitting these items, I avoid speaking on topics of which I know very little (i.e. ties, hats, umbrellas, and watches). However, I urge you to go and see the film; I highly doubt you will be disappointed the by the plot, performances, or visual appeal, but even if you are I guarantee you will not be disappointed by the clothing. So get out there and experience if for yourself, just remember: “Manners maketh man.”
For a more detailed review of the actual film, check out this post from Erin On Point