Bond 24: Spectre

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I swore I wouldn’t do it. As deep as my love for James Bond is, I swore that I would not review the clothing of his most recent film. Yet, in celebration of the DVD release of the 24th James Bond film, I break my oath and begin begin to write.

As some may know, I do not have a high opinion of the clothing from the 23rd Bond film, 2012’s Skyfall. The shrunken suits did nothing for Craig besides make him look old and haggard which, although that may have been the theme of the film, is no way for Bond to look. I had hoped that three years later, costume designer Jany Temime had come to her senses and decided to dress Bond like an adult. However, my spirits fell when I watched the film. Although the clothing is a marked improvement over the disaster of 2012, they still fall quite far from the near perfection of 2008’s Quantum of Solace.

Designer Tom Ford returns in this film for his third collaboration with the Bond franchise. Starting in 2008 with Quantum of Solace, under costume designer Louise Frogley, Tom Ford became truly noticeable in the Bond franchise with Skyfall. Now in Spectre, Tom Ford collaborated with Jany Temime as well as Daniel Craig to design and produce suits and casual wear for Craig’s fourth Bond film.

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Just like the previous two films, the suits of Spectre are all identical in design and cut. However, Spectre sees Craig’s Bond wearing a three-piece suit for the first time since the tail-end of Casino Royale in 2006. Like Skyfall, the suits still suffer from being too small, but the error is much less noticeable in this film. From Skyfall to Spectre, the cut of the suit’s chest has changed. In Skyfall, the chests of the suits were much to small, resulting in the chest ‘gaping’ (example below). In Spectre, the chest  fits Craig’s physique very well and the ‘gaping’ is avoided. Aiding in this is the change in the buttoning style of the jacket. While Skyfall‘s jackets looked like a 2-button cut just because of how bad they fit (the suits were in fact three-button), the jackets of Spectre, like Quantum of Solace, are cut in a three-roll-two style. What this means is that although the jacket is made with three buttons on the front, the lapel is intentionally rolled to the middle button, which is the only one meant to fasten. The slideshow below shows the difference in the cut of the chest.

In addition, the shoulders of the Spectre suits fit much better than their 2012 counterparts. The shoulders of the suits in Skyfall were simply to small for Craig’s muscular build and, rather than making him look powerful or dominant as his build should, made him look weak and washed-out (again, maybe it was an intentional choice for the film). Conversely, the shoulders of the suits in Spectre are wider than those in Skyfall, making Craig appear more healthy and in-shape and, in my opinion, much more Bond-like. The slideshow below shows the difference in the cut of the chest and shoulders.

Another aspect to note is the change in collar style from Skyfall to Spectre. To accentuate Bond’s old and haggard look, Jany Temime chose a tab collar for Skyfall. Because Craig already has a slightly square jaw, the narrow tab collar does nothing for his face and,in my opinion, makes his head look just a little too large for his body. For Spectre, Jany Temime chose a more traditional collar much closer in appearance to those from Quantum of Solace, which were specially made just for Craig’s face. These new collars are a welcome improvement from those in Skyfall and contribute to the image of a Bond who’s back on top of his game.

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While Spectre‘s suits still suffer from too much waist suppression, which creates unsightly wrinkles, the quarters of the jacket are also more cut away than the jackets from Skyfall. This better accentuates the dramatic silhouette of the jacket without making it seem like the jacket is just pulled in too much in the waist. Unfortunately, due to the low rise of the trousers, a triangle of shirt shows beneath the jacket button and the pant’s waistband. While some sartorial purists consider this to be blasphemy, I don’t mind it so much. Like narrow lapels and skinny cuts, I think the trend for low rise trousers will leave in time. Until then, I don’t mind a small triangle of shirt.

Unlike the suits in Skyfall, the Spectre suits have four buttons on the cuff. In both films, Craig leaves the last cuff button undone. It’s a flashy practice that some abhor, but I often find myself giving in to its temptation. The trousers of the two films also differ. Although I thought the pants in Skyfall were verging on too short, Spectre must see Bond expecting a sudden flood. When Bond is standing sill, the pants barely brush the tops of his shoes. Any movement of his legs at all prominently displays his socks. The 2″ cuff on the pants is a double edged sword. While it does weigh down the hem is an attempt to prevent them from creeping up the leg, they also visually shorten the pants even more, something which they certainly suffer from.

 

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Two suits in the film stood out to me. While on a mission in Rome, Bond must disguise himself as an Italian gangster. Jany Temime chose Tom Ford’s Windsor cut for this costume. Perhaps the most striking aspects of this suit are the wide peak lapels, which starkly contrast with the slim lapels of the other suits in the film. In addition, the shoulder of the Windsor model are much stronger than those of Bond’s other suits. This gives Bond a very aggressive and commanding look as well as a strictly formal appearance. This is the only two-button suit in the film as well as the only suit without cuffs on the trousers, which was perhaps done to give bond a more formal look.

This is the first three-piece suit we see Bond wear in the film. The vest has six buttons with five to button and it has four barchetta pockets on the front. The suit is complimented by wide flap pockets to match the lapel, a ticket pocket, five cuff buttons (with the last left undone), and a single vent. He wears the suit with a white shirt with a collar bar and cocktail cuffs and black double-monk strap boots. The boots are a good choice to compliment the pants as their taller height prevents as much sock from shoeing when moving or sitting down. There is a white handkerchief in the breast pocket.

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About the suit, Jany Temime said, “Bond is in disguise and has to fit in with gangsters, moving in a daring way. The details in the shirt, the collar is more Italian style: it is Bond in disguise.” While her sentiment may be well meant, it is not entirely accurate. A collar bar is really more American than Italian and the shoulders of the suit are much more British than Neapolitan. However, the addition of the cocktail cuffs to the shirt is a welcome treat after they had been absent from the series for thirty-six years.

Sean Connery first began the tradition of wearing cocktail cuffs. Throughout his six Bond films, we wore them almost exclusively with all his lounge suits and odd jackets. Cocktail cuffs were utilized heavily by Sean Connery and Roger Moore during their time as Bond, but after 1979’s Moonraker they weren’t seen again. It is refreshing to see that Jany Temime decided to use the cocktail cuff in at least one ensemble in Spectre.

Bond later pairs this suit with a black bridge coat, driving gloves, a black tie, sunglasses, and an Aston Martin DB10.

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The second unique outfit that I’d like to take a closer look at is the Tuxedo of the film. For fifty fifty four years Bond has worn black tie in every film, however Spectre sees the return of a classic. One of the most iconic suits from the series is Sean Connery’s white dinner jacket from Goldfinger. Since then, we have seen white dinner jackets in six Bond films, the last being 1985’s A View to a Kill. Now, after a hiatus of thirty years, Bond has once again donned the white dinner jacket.

Jany Temime commented on this jacket saying,

“I told Sam [Mendes] I couldn’t do a better tuxedo than Skyfall. But then I thought Morocco deserved that colonial touch, a feeling of Casablanca where time stops and everything is so iconic….It was very hard to do better than the Skyfall blue tuxedo but I took my inspiration from Humphrey Bogart in the film Casablanca and Morocco. Daniel added the red carnation buttonhole and it looked absolutely sublime.”

The influence of Casablanca is obvious in the scene not only because of Craig’s costume, but also due to Madeleine Swann’s (Lea Seydoux) dress. I think this scene is among the best in the film not only for its content but also for its sheer visual appeal. The jacket is cut in Tom Ford’s Windsor Model (the same model as the previously mentioned Rome suit). The cut offers a close, clean cut with wide, bellied lapels and a slightly short length. To my eye, it also seems that this jacket is cut a bit fuller in the waist resulting in less wrinkles. However, we only see the jacket briefly before Bond sits down and engages in a fight so it’s very possible that I am mistaken.

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However, despite being overjoyed at the reappearance of the white dinner jacket,the jacket its self is not devoid of fault. First and foremost is the amount of buttons on the front of the jacket. A single-breasted dinner jacket should only have one button, however this jacket has two. It is not very noticeable in the film as Bond is seated for much of the film, but if this jacket were worn outside of the film the two button front would be quite apparent.

Although black and midnight blue dinner jackets are required to have faced lapels, usually in grosgrain or silk, white dinner jackets should be self-faced (no contrasting facing). However, the jacket from Spectre goes against this practice and faces the lapels in grosgrain silk. Again, due to the lighting of the scene this is not very noticeable, but in real like the silk lapels make this jacket look quite gaudy. You can see an example of this in the slideshow above. The host talking to Craig is wearing the same model of Jacket as used in the film.

The last complaint I have with the jacket is the vent. Traditionally, dinner jackets should have no vents. However, in the past seventy or eighty years it has become acceptable for the jackets to have double vents. This jacket has a single vent. Single vents are the most casual type of vent, originally coming from hunting clothes, and are therefore unfit for a dinner jacket. This mistake was also on the Tuxedo from Skyfall and I am beginning to think that Jany Temime likes the way a single vent fits Craig’s body or worse, she thinks it’s the correct vent for a tuxedo.

 

Overall, the tailored clothing in Spectre, although not as good as it could have been, is miles better than that of Skyfall. The give Bond a modern look and yet at the same time are still classic enough to fit in. The fabric and color selections throughout the film are, in my opinion, an excellent fit for the scenes. I think the clothes of this film greatly enhance its visual appeal and I hope that the costume designer for Bond 25 can keep moving in the same direction that this film started.

 

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Bond 24: Spectre