Brioni and a Disciple, Angelo Roma

Pierce Brosnan in a Brioni pinstripe suit in The World Is Not Enough

Pierce Brosnan in a Brioni three-piece suit in The World Is Not Enough

Brioni is very well-associated with making James Bond’s suits in the five films from GoldenEye to Casino Royale, tailoring both Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig under supervision of costume designer Lindy Hemming. But years before Pierce Brosnan took over the James Bond role in 1995, Brioni’s style came to the Bond series in 1977 when Angelo Roma provided Roger Moore’s suits for The Spy Who Loved Me, and then again two years later in Moonraker. Angelo Vitucci, a former manager of Brioni Coutoure and Brioni model, started Angelo Roma. Angelo Roma is not to be confused with the more famous and adventurous Roman fashion house Angelo Litrico, You can read more about Angleo Vitucci’s time with Brioni in this article and this article in the Sydney Morning Herald.

Angelo Vitucci brought Brioni’s Roman silhouette to his own suits. The Roman silhouette is based closely on the English military and equestrian cut popularised by tailors like H. Huntsman, Henry Poole and Dege & Skinner, and it is defined by powerful, straight and padded shoulders, often with roped sleeveheads, a clean chest and a suppressed waist. Though the style of Roger Moore’s suits in The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker is eclipsed by wide lapels and flared trouser legs, the cut of the suit jacket is classic and not far removed from classic examples of Brioni’s tailoring. In the image below on the right, I’ve narrowed Moore’s lapels to a balanced width—as well as narrowed the tie and shortened and widened the collar—to demonstrate what a classic cut the suit has. Compare it to the original suit on the left below.

Angelo-Comparison

Roger Moore wearing a grey dupioni silk suit Angelo Roma suit in Moonraker

The suit in the altered image essentially has the same look as a classic Brioni suit. If the gorge (the seam where the collar meets the lapels) wasn’t so curved, it almost looks like it could be from Savile Row! English tailors typically cut their gorges straighter than the Italians, though some Italians also cut their gorges very straight. It’s amazing what a difference just the width of the lapels makes to the perception of the chest size and shoulder width. The balanced lapel width gives Moore a more masculine chest without making him look barrel-chested like in his suits in The Saint do. Angelo Vitucci is quoted in a 1954 article in the Panama City News-Herald about Brioni tailoring:

“‘Mainly,’ comments Signor Vitucci, ‘our suits are designed to camouflage figure faults, like bow legs or other unfortunate handicaps.’ No cuffs on Brioni’s trousers. It’s not a matter of saving cloth but saving appearance. Uncuffed trousers, explains Angelo, give a clean, uncluttered look and are more hygienic besides, since they do not catch dust.”

Brioni appears to have changed their mind about trouser turn-ups when they made Pierce Brosnan’s trousers. Though James Bond’s relationship with Italian tailoring started with a disciple of Brioni, Brioni finally came to the James Bond series sixteen years after Moonraker in GoldenEye.

Charcoal Windowpane-Cream Shirt

Pierce Brosnan wearing a charcoal windowpane Brioni suit in GoldenEye

The excellent book Dressed to Kill: James Bond, The Suited Hero names Checchino Fonticoli as Brioni’s master tailor who fits Pierce Brosnan in his suits for GoldenEye. He was capable of altering Brioni’s house style to make just the right look for James Bond in the 1990s. Lindy Hemming’s is quoted in the book saying, “I wanted a company which was capable of tailoring in the Savile Row manner”. Brioni’s Roman style is certainly reminiscent of military Savile Row tailoring as I mentioned above, though, as stated in the book, Hemming also wanted the suits to look current just as Anthony Sinclair’s suit did in the 1960’s:

“We discussed style and proportion and came up with a very modern jacket shape; although classic, it is slightly longer and looks good with three buttons as well as two. I also wanted to incorporate traditional details such as ticket pockets which would suggest that the clothing might have come from Savile Row.”

Whilst Savile Row tailors, especially those in the military tradition, would probably not make their suit jackets as loose as Pierce Brosnan’s were in GoldenEye and Tomorrow Never Dies, Hemming’s choice of Brioni was more for their ability to produce a large number of suits quickly than it was for their Italian style. As well as ticket pockets, Brosnan’s Brioni suits mostly have double vents and slanted pockets to carry on the illusion of an English suit. Hemming is also quoted in Dressed to Kill saying, “This man [Bond] must look immaculate, not strange or foppish or too fashionable.”

At the time, Brosnan’s suits could have been more fashionable if the trousers had triple pleats (like the trousers with his navy blazer in GoldenEye) or quadruple pleats instead of classic double pleats. But Lindy Hemming failed in not making Brosnan’s suits too fashionable since they have very full cut in his first two Bond films. The tight-fitting suit trend now as Daniel Craig wears in Skyfall makes the loose cut of Brosnan’s suit jackets even more apparent.

Hamburg-Charcoal-Suit

Pierce Brosnan wearing a charcoal flannel Brioni suit in Tomorrow Never Dies

Though Daniel Craig’s Brioni suits are cut trimmer like an English suit, they lack the English details that costume designer Lindy Hemming put on Brosnan’s suits, like the ticket pockets, slanted pockets and, usually, double vents. Craig’s Brioni suits have straight pockets and, on all but one, single vents, which are still classic styles and ultimately have no bearing on a suit’s style. Whilst Brosnan’s Brioni suits are characterised by their long, loose cut and low button stance, Craig’s Brioni suits have a trimmer cut and classic button stance like Moore’s Angelo suits, and a very high gorge. It’s difficult to draw direct comparisons between Moore’s, Brosnan’s and Craig’s Italian suits since they all reflect their contemporary fashions, but they all are tied together with the straight, padded shoulders and clean chest that define the Roman tailoring that Brioni made popular.

Charcoal-Blue-Suit

Daniel Craig wears a charcoal blue Brioni suit in Casino Royale

In Memory of Richard Kiel

Jaws-Three-Piece-Suit

With great sadness, on Wednesday 10 September we lost Richard Kiel, the actor who twice played the henchman Jaws in The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker. I’ve never heard Roger Moore speak of anyone so kindly and with so much respect as he does for Richard Kiel. When I saw Roger Moore speak at Book Revue in Huntington, NY in 2008, a child asked Moore, “What was Jaws like in real life?” Moore responded, “Well, Jaws in real life is seven-foot-two, and he’s what I call a gentle giant. He is such a nice man, so kind, and we were in Canada a few years ago. Every time he would bring up the subject of UNICEF so I could talk about it. A good man.”

Jaws-Three-Piece-Suit-2Only a month ago I wrote about Jaws’ azure double-breasted blazer in The Spy Who Loved Me, but now let’s look at his more tasteful charcoal chalkstripe three-piece suit that he also wears in the film. It’s a very conservative suit for 1977, and Jaws appropriately wears it for two meetings with his boss, Karl Stromberg. In comparison to the other clothes he wears throughout the film, the three-piece suit is the only outfit that makes him look like a truly menacing character. A man of Jaws’ size must certainly have his suits made for him, and the same tailor or costumier who made the azure blazer probably made the suit as well. The single-breasted suit jacket has the same large, imposing shoulders that the double-breasted blazer has, but it has much more shape through the body for an elegant look. The jacket is a button two with a medium button stance and wide notched lapels. A slightly long jacket helps to anchor Jaws at the cost of emphasising his towering height. The jacket pulls at the button, which may be the result of Jaws’ body type being difficult to tailor. His jacket sleeves are also too long, covering the top of his hands. The jacket is detailed with slanted, flapped pockets and double vents. The suit’s waistcoat most likely has six buttons and the trousers have a slightly flared leg with plain hems.

Jaws-Three-Piece-Suit-3Jaws’ light grey shirt is an unconventional choice that flatters his cool winter complexion. It has a fashionably large point collar that has a generous amount of tie space. The shirt’s placket is stitched 1/4″ from the edge to match the collar and cuff stitching. Jaws’ tie is black with a red diamond motif that has a small black square in the centre of each diamond. He ties it in a four-in-hand knot. Jaws’ shoes are black.

Jaws: The Azure Double-Breasted Blazer

Jaws-Blazer

Jaws, played by the 7’2″ Richard Kiel, should be one of the scariest Bond villains, considering his imposing size and fierce metal teeth. However, his clumsiness and sometimes unfashionable clothing choices contribute to the comic relief side of the character. Jaws’ azure blue double-breasted blazer in The Spy Who Loved Me takes away some of Jaws’ ferociousness. Though light blue blazers were common in the 1970s, they weren’t then and aren’t now particularly fashionable. The light colour makes Jaws look less threatening than dark colour would. The blazer is probably made of polyester, though it holds up well though a car crash off a cliff and being literally kicked off a train. Jaws simply brushes the dirt off himself after these incidents and walks away undamaged and unwrinkled.

Jaws-Blazer-2The double-breasted blazer is a good choice for a tall man like Jaws because the rows of buttons help break up his height, and the longer length of Jaws’ blazer shortens the perceived leg length to ground him. The ideal length of a blazer or suit jacket should be half the distance from the base of the neck to the ground, but Jaws’ blazer is longer than that. Though Jaws is already a bulky man, the shoulders of his blazer are built up and out to make him look even more imposing. The blazer has polished solid brass buttons; there are four with two to button on the front and three on each cuff. The blazer also has three open patch pockets, wide peaked lapels without buttonholes, and double vents. Apart from the too long sleeves, the blazer fits quite well. And considering Richard Kiel’s size, the blazer is probably made bespoke for Jaws by a costumier.

Jaws-Ecru-ShirtJaws’ trousers are dark grey and have a dart on each side in the front and two darts on each side in the rear. They have a slightly flared leg, slanted side pockets, no rear pockets and zip-style side-adjusters. Under the blazer, Jaws wears an ecru shirt with a fashionably large point collar that has a generous amount of tie space. The shirt’s rounded single-button cuffs are attached to the sleeves with gathers. The shirt’s placket is stitched 1/4″ from the edge to match the collar and cuff stitching. The back of the shirt is tailored with darts. Jaws’ tie is cream with a light blue, black and beige crescent pattern. It is tied in a four-in-hand knot, and Jaws takes a moment to fix his tie after he is kicked off a train. Jaws’ shoes are black derbies.

The Lapidus Cuff

Moonraker-Tweed-2

For The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker, Frank Foster made Roger Moore’s shirts with a special kind of cuff: the tab cuff. Foster calls it the Lapidus cuff, after the French fashion designer Ted Lapidus who invented this cuff. The Lapidus cuff is a square barrel cuff with an extended tab to fasten the cuff. Though there doesn’t appear to be any special benefit to the cuff design, the Lapidus cuff pivots in a unique way compared to typical single-button cuffs.

Roger Moore wears his Lapidus cuff shirts with his suits and sports coats in The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker, as well as with his dinner suit in the former film. Moore’s Lapidus cuffs are stitched 1/4 inch from the edge all around, but on my own lilac pinpoint example from Frank Foster (see below) the tab portion is stitched on the edge whilst the rest of the cuff has regular 1/4 inch stitching. Foster puts a 25 ligne button on the cuff instead of the typical 16 ligne button, which makes the cuff stand out more than it already would. However, an unconventional shirt cuff is a rather subtle—but also unique—way to make a fashion statement.

Lapidus-Cuff-Shirt

Which of Bond’s most fashionable suits do you find least attractive?

As suggested by The Suits of James Bond reader “Le Chiffre,” I am giving you the opportunity to vote on which of Bond’s attempts to be sartorially fashionable you find to be least successful. Choose the one you think is most inappropriate for Bond, the one you think is most dated, or the one you just don’t like. Here are your three options:

1977-Brown-Silk-Suit1. The Spy Who Loved Me (1977): A silk suit in a light brown colour commonly associated with the 1970s, with wide lapels, swelled edges and flared trousers. Read more.

1989-Dalton-Suit2. Licence to Kill (1989): An oversized suit with wide shoulders, low notch lapels, a low button stance and triple-reverse-pleat trousers. Read more.

2012-Glen-Urquhart-Suit3. Skyfall (2012): An overly-tight suit that unnecessarily pulls and creases, with narrow lapels, a short jacket length and low-rise skinny trousers. Read more.

Which of Bond's most fashionable suits is the worst?

  • The Spy Who Loved Me (37%, 1,067 Votes)
  • Licence to Kill (35%, 1,015 Votes)
  • Skyfall (29%, 840 Votes)

Total Voters: 2,922

Loading ... Loading ...

If there’s another Bond film that you think has worse clothing, please feel free to mention it in the comments below.

Navy Battle Dress

Royal-Navy-Battle-Dress

The Spy Who Loved Me has Bond wearing the most naval clothing of any film in the series. Not only does Bond wear a dress uniform and greatcoat, he also wears battle dress, a style that dates to World War II. The dark navy serge jacket is waist-length and buttons three down the front with notch lapels. The bottom of the jacket has an extended tab for a tighter fit at the waist. There is a patch breast pocket with button flap and box pleat on each side of the chest. The cuffs close around the wrist with one button. The jacket has epaulettes that mark the rank of commander. The buttons are shanked brass.

Royal-Navy-Battle-Dress-2

Underneath the jacket Bond wears a light navy polo neck shirt. The trousers match the jacket and have a long rise, darted front and straight leg. They are worn with a belt, which is hidden under the jacket. The shoes are black polished leather derbies.

A few examples of the pieces in this outfit sold across a few auctions at Bonham’s in Knightsbridge. The jacket sold for £9,600 on 16 November 2005 and another for £11,760 on 6 March 2007. A false front for the jacket to wear under a wetsuit was sold for £720 on 16 June 2009 after failing to sell at three previous auctions. A pair of trousers was sold for £384 on 16 June 2009. All of these pieces are made by Bermans & Nathans.

Royal-Navy-Battle-Dress-3

The Yellow Ski Suit

The Spy Who Loved Me Bogner Ski Suit

The most iconic ski suit of the Bond series would have to be the bright yellow jumpsuit from The Spy Who Loved Me‘s pre-title sequence made by Bogner. It’s an iconic ski suit because of the scene’s memorable ending with the Union Flag parachute, though bright yellow and red are not colours typically associated with Bond in any way. Yellow and red also prove to not be the most effect colours for Bond to wear since it makes him an easier target for the Soviet agents. Along with the rest of the film’s wardrobe, the skiwear is the most dated of the series and hasn’t held up as well as Moore’s 1980’s skiwear has. The Soviets’ skiwear in black with red stripes—also provided by Bogner—by contrast doesn’t look nearly as dated.

The Spy Who Loved Me Bogner Ski Suit

The front of Bond’s ski suit zips with the Bogner “B” zip fastener and has a turndown collar. It has a patch pocket on the left chest with a V-shaped bottom. The waist is cinched with a belt, and under the belt there’s a zip pocket on the right side seam and a patch pocket on the front left. The sleeve openings have a zip closure, and on the upper left sleeve is Bogner’s “W” logo in green, red and blue crosswise stripes. The outfit is accented in bright red with a red toque, red rucksack and red ski boots. Bond tones down the outfit with black gloves, and the gloves have the same “W” logo found on the sleeve. The ski goggles have a yellow frame to match the ski suit. Underneath the ski suit Bond wears a white poloneck.

Ride to Atlantis in a Navy Blazer

Atlantis-Navy-Blazer

In The Spy Who Loved Me, Roger Moore wears a very dark navy 2-button blazer that’s almost identical to the one he wears two years later in Moonraker. It’s made by Angelo Roma with a clean cut and straight, narrow, roped shoulders in classic Roman style that echoes English military tailoring. The lapels are an inch wider than they need to be, but they don’t detract from the excellent fit and timeless cut of the blazer. The blazer is detailed with silver-toned metal buttons, not shanked but with 4-holes like a regular button, sewn with navy thread. There are four buttons on each cuff, slanted pockets with a ticket pocket (which isn’t present on the Moonraker blazer) and deep double vents.

Atlantis-Navy-Blazer-2

The white gabardine trousers have a flat front and bell bottoms, which if might ever be appropriate would be appropriate here. In white—worn with a navy blazer—they evoke a sailor’s uniform, and Moore is indeed wearing the trousers out at sea. The Frank Foster shirt is cream with mid blue stripes spaced different lengths apart. Though at some parts it looks like the stripes are grouped in threes, it doesn’t all follow that pattern. The shirt has a large point collar and tab cuffs. The tie is mid blue shantung silk, tied in a four-in-hand knot. Moore wears black horsebit slip-ons and black socks. The outfit overall could best be described as dressy resort-wear. White trousers, though classic, dress down the blazer. They are best worn in a warm climate far from the city, where mid grey trousers work best.