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

Two Lapel Buttonholes on a Double-Breasted Jacket

For-Your-Eyes-Only-Blazer-3

A buttonhole in each lapel on Roger Moore’s Douglas Hayward blazer in For Your Eyes Only

Why do double-breasted jackets and coats often have a buttonhole at the top of each lapel whilst single-breasted jackets and coats only have a buttonhole at the top of the left lapel? It is because double-breasted jackets and coats symmetrically have both buttons and buttonholes down the left and right sides whilst a single-breasted jacket or coat only has buttons down the right side and buttonholes down the left side. The buttonholes at the top of the lapels reflect what’s below. Though peaked lapels on a double-breasted jacket never fold over and close like single-breasted notch lapels sometimes do on sports coats, pea coats and some double-breasted overcoats—like the greatcoat—are able to fasten up to the top. These coats do have a button on each side either under the collar or at the top of the chest for the lapels to fold over and fasten to. The two buttonholes on a double-breasted coat are carried over from these more functional garments.

A buttonhole in each lapel on Pierce Brosnan's double-breasted overcoat

A buttonhole in each lapel on Pierce Brosnan’s double-breasted Brioni overcoat in Tomorrow Never Dies

Dimi Major put a buttonhole in each lapel of George Lazenby’s double-breasted car coat and blazer in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Douglas Hayward made Roger Moore’s double-breasted blazer in For Your Eyes Only, his double-breasted suit jacket in Octopussy and his double-breasted dinner jacket in A View to a Kill with a buttonhole in each lapel. Brioni put a buttonhole in each lapel in Pierce Brosnan’s double-breasted blazer in GoldenEye and in his double-breasted overcoats in Tomorrow Never DiesThe World Is Not Enough and Die Another Day. Sean Connery’s, Roger Moore’s and Pierce Brosnan’s naval uniform jackets and Roger Moore’s naval greatcoat all have a buttonhole on each lapel, and the greatcoat’s lapels can close to the top. Daniel Craig’s greatcoat in Quantum of Solace also has a buttonhole in each lapel, and like Roger Moore’s greatcoat it can close to the top.

Double-Breasted-Chalkstripe-Suit

A buttonhole only in the left lapel in Roger Moore’s double-breasted Cyril Castle suit jacket in The Man with the Golden Gun

Cyril Castle, however, only put a single buttonhole in the left lapel in Roger Moore’s double-breasted chesterfield and silk suit jacket in Live and Let Die and Roger Moore’s double-breasted suits, blazer and white dinner jacket in The Man with the Golden Gun. A single lapel buttonhole on a suit jacket discards the ancestry and symmetry of having two lapel buttonholes for instead considering only the actual usage of a suit jacket’s lapel buttonhole: the boutonnière. Even when there is a buttonhole in both lapels, only the left buttonhole should be used for a boutonnière if you are so inclined to wear a boutonnière.

Daniel Craig’s Billy Reid pea coat in Skyfall also only has a lapel buttonhole on the left, which takes into account the reality that even if the lapels were closed, only the left side would actually fasten over to a button on the right. There wouldn’t be a jigger button at the top of the coat like there is at the waist. Since the Billy Reid pea coat has peaked lapels and no buttons at the top, it actually can’t close at the top like a traditional pea coat could anyway.

No lapel buttonholes

No buttonholes in the lapels of Roger Moore’s double-breasted Angelo Roma dinner jacket in Moonraker

Angelo Vitucci didn’t put any lapel buttonholes in the two double-breasted dinner jackets in The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker and the double-breasted blazer in Moonraker. This is the coward’s solution for those who can’t decide if a double-breasted jacket should have a lapel buttonhole in the left lapel or both lapels. Though history and symmetry says there should be a buttonhole in each lapel of a double-breasted jacket, it’s not a faux pas to have one buttonhole only in the left lapel. No lapel buttonholes at all ends up looking cheap and leaves no place to wear a flower.

The Royal Oxford Shirt

Royal-Oxford-Shirt

Pierce Brosnan wears a royal oxford shirt with his charcoal suit in the opening scene in The World Is Not Enough

The royal oxford shirt should be more popular than it is. Though Bond has primarily worn poplin shirts throughout the series, Pierce Brosnan wears royal oxford shirts from Turnbull & Asser in Tomorrow Never Dies and The World Is Not Enough. All oxford cloths are basket weaves, from the finer pinpoint to the heavier standard oxford cloth, but the royale oxford is a more elaborate weave than the others and has a diagonal effect along with the basket weave look. Whilst royal oxford is the dressiest of the oxford cloths, it can be effectively made into both dressier and sportier shirts. Pierce Brosnan usually wears his with double cuffs, but in The World Is Not Enough he wears a royal oxford shirt with button-cuffs and an open collar with his herringbone linen suit.

Royal-OxfordRoyal oxford is just below poplin in formality and can be worn for the same purposes, whilst twills and other oxfords are all progressively lower in formality depending on the size of the texture. Unlike poplin, royal oxford irons very easily and doesn’t crease so readily. The floated yarns in the weave mean that it wrinkles less, but they also make royal oxford a softer cloth. If you’re used to non-iron shirts but want something more luxurious, a regular royal oxford shirt may be the best shirt to get. Royal oxford is also a heavier cloth than poplin, but the weave is open so it breathes very well. It is one of the most versatile shirtings whilst also being one of the most practical.

All Black: Suit, Shirt and Tie

Tomorrow-Never-Dies-Black-Suit

Though he doesn’t wear this in the movie, Pierce Brosnan wears a black suit with a black shirt and black tie in stills for and on half the advertising materials for Tomorrow Never Dies. At the time it was really cool to match your shirt and tie, and wearing everything in black was even cooler. Now it’s mostly worn by young men trying to look hip, or it’s worn as a uniform in a jazz orchestra. It’s very showy and not at all elegant, more appropriate for a Bond villain than for Bond. Thankfully we never see this look on Bond in any film. Since the entire outfit is so dark, it’s difficult to make out the details. The suit is Brosnan’s usual button-three from Brioni. The silhouette is recognisable from the straight shoulders and roped sleeve heads. The slanted hip pockets have flaps, and there are four buttons on the cuffs. The trousers are worn with a belt and have turn-ups. The black shirt has a point collar, and since the collar is different than the collar on the shirts in the film I cannot tell if the shirt is made by Turnbull & Asser. The tie is solid black, most likely satin silk. The shoes are black, but the style is difficult to make out. The toe has a very chiselled shape, unlike any of the Church’s shoes Brosnan wears in the film.

Though it’s a look that should be avoided, Brosnan executes it as well as it can possibly be done. What’s most difficult is making sure that the three blacks do not clash with each other. Not all blacks are the same; some may have a hint of green whilst others may have a hint of purple. It’s not uncommon now to see celebrities wear a black suit and black shirt sans tie, and I find that is more successful than with a tie when it is worn in a casual evening setting. But in that case, a dark grey shirt would be a way to improve that type of outfit and still keep it all dark. I must admit, there is something cool about wearing all black, but wearing a black suit, a black shirt and a black tie is not the best way to do it.

One of my VHS box sets from 1999, released shortly before The World Is Not Enough. It came with GoldenEye, Tomorrow Never Dies and some Connery and Moore films. At the time I got this, I though the all-black look was cool.

One of my VHS box sets from 1999, released shortly before The World Is Not Enough. It came with GoldenEye, Tomorrow Never Dies and five others. At the time I got this, I though the all-black look on James Bond was cool.

Dressing for Heat in Vietnam

Tomorrow-Never-Dies-Blue-Shirt

Though Pierce Brosnan didn’t go too far into oversized 1990s fashions in his tailoring, the dark blue linen shirt he wears in Tomorrow Never Dies has a fashionably full fit. A full fit is more practical in hot weather than today’s popular slim-fit is. However, Brosnan’s shirt is simply too large with the shoulder seam down his arms. The shirt’s point collar with edge stitching was fashionable at the time, and other details include square 1-button cuffs, a button-through breast pocket on the left, no front placket, shoulder pleats and a rounded hem. The shirt is made by Angelo Litrico. The black cotton and lyrca blend jogging trousers have an elasticated waist. The blue plimsoll trainers are made by Trax, and Brosnan wears them without socks. This outfit is the low point in Brosnan’s Bond clothing. It could have been done much better, simply with a better fitting shirt and chinos instead of stretch trousers.

Tomorrow-Never-Dies-Blue-Shirt-2

This outfit in both its entirety and just the shirt alone have been auctioned at Bonhams in Knightsbridge. On 6 March 2007 the shirt sold for £660. On 16 June 2009 the whole outfit sold for £1,200 and the shirt alone sold for £1080.

Leather Jacket in Combat

Brown-Leather-Coat

In Tomorrow Never Dies Bond dresses warmly in a brown leather coat and two jumpers for the snowy Russian border. The coat is car coat length with a zip front and belted waist. The two lower patch pockets have an inverted box pleat and a flap. There is a welted slash pocket on either side of the chest, and sleeves have button-straps. Under the jacket Bond wears a dark blue, heavy wool, mock neck jumper with a zip to the neck. And under that he wears a thinner black, ribbed wool polo neck jumper. The olive trousers have cargo pockets on the sides of the upper thighs. Bond also wears black, cashmere-lined leather gloves and black boots.

Brown-Leather-Coat-2

Bonhams in Knightsbridge put two of the brown leather coats up for auction on 6 March 2007, but neither coat sold. Of the two lots the first also contained the black polo neck jumper, the green combat trousers and a black ski jumper. The listing follows:

A leather jacket, black polo neck sweater, a black ski jumper and green combat trousers, the brown leather ¾ length jacket, with black acetate lining, labelled inside “Angels & Bermans, The Costumiers to the Entertainment Industry”, inscribed in an unknown hand in blue ink “1997 TOMORROW NEVER DIES PIERCE BROSNAN” with further material detail label, the black ski jumper of elasticated cotton with zip to neck, the black polo neck of pure wool, with label inside “1997 TOMORROW NEVER DIES PIERCE BROSNAN“, the khaki military style combat trousers, with military label to inside bearing various inscriptions

The black ski jumper in the lot was not used in film, and the blue jumper from the film was not part of this lot. The coats appear to be identical in both lots except the coat in the larger lot is missing the belt and the coat sold alone is described as having a lining in “heavy cotton.” Both lots were put up for auction again on 16 June 2009. The first lot including the coat, two jumpers and trousers sold for £6,000 and the second lot with just the coat sold for £1,320.

Brown-Leather-Coat-3

Lindy Hemming: Blue and Brown for Brosnan

How much should a man match his clothing for the day? Sean Connery’s James Bond wardrobe follows a simple system: navy ties with navy suits, navy or black ties with grey suits, and brown ties with brown suits. Shirts are white, light blue and cream. And the suitings are simple, in blue or grey with the occasional brown. The literary Bond has an even simpler system of dressing, which always matched a black knitted tie with a navy suit.

Blue-Brown/Charcoal Suit

Lindy Hemming, the costume designer on all four of Pierce Brosnan’s Bond films, developed a system for dressing Brosnan, one with very carefully planned outfits that coordinate in both obvious and subtle ways. Hemming often used limited colour palates but combined the colours in unique ways. She incorporated the not-so-common combination of blue and brown into many of the outfits, and we saw that done in a few different ways. In one method she matches a charcoal suit with a navy and brown tie. We first saw that in Tomorrow Never Dies with the two-piece suit in Hamburg (above left). The diamond-pattern tie also picks up the light blue in Brosnan’s shirt. In the opening scene of The World is Not Enough, we see the blue and brown tie come back in a chevron pattern with the charcoal suit (above right). That suit appears to be solid charcoal but it actually has blue and brown threads in it, which is the reasoning for the tie’s colour. Logically, the suit in Tomorrow Never Dies would also have blue and brown threads.

Blue-Brown/Light Suit

The chevron tie from the opening scene of The World is Not Enough returns later in the film with what appears to be a medium grey suit. But upon a closer look, that suit is made up of blue and light brown yarns (above right). When those two colours in the right tones—opposites—are combined, they balance each other and the overall result looks grey. With this suit later in the film, Brosnan wears a blue tie with light brown ticks, also pulling out the colours in the suit. A white shirt helps to neutralise the suit’s colour, since if he wore a blue or cream shirt, one of the suit’s other colours would have been more noticeable.

Similar to the light blue and brown suit in The World is Not Enough, Brosnan wears a blue and sand Prince of Wales check suit (above left) for his visit to the office in GoldenEye. The blue and sand colours again balance each other and the suit looks almost grey. Here the tie is blue and light brown, to emphasize the two dominant colours in the suit. Though the tie is more blue, though the ivory shirt balances that out with more warmth. And the blue pocket handkerchief coordinates with both the suit and tie.

Blue-Brown/Navy Birdseye Suit

One suit we see in all four of Brosnan’s is the semi-solid (usually Birdseye) navy suit, which tones the navy down with a white. Hemming probably finds that Brosnan looks better in a muted navy rather than a rich navy (which looks great on someone like Roger Moore), and she accessorises those suit in two different manners. In GoldenEye (above left) and Tomorrow Never Dies (above middle), those suits are worn with ivory shirts. In GoldenEye the tie is navy, gold and cream, whilst the tie in Tomorrow Never Dies is a similar combination of navy and bronze. And there he goes a step further by matching the bronze in his tie with a light brown overcoat. In Die Another Day (above right), Brosnan wears a tie of navy and gold squares with his navy pinhead suit in a brief plane scene. So again, we see that combination of blue and brown tones.

Before Brosnan, James Bond had never matched his clothes so carefully. But like Connery’s Bond wardrobe, we see consistency throughout Brosnan’s Bond films. As a graphic designer I have a great appreciation for the Lindy Hemming’s colour matching, though it makes Bond look like he’s trying too hard. Should James Bond—or any man—match his clothes so carefully?

The Roman/Military/Equestrian Shoulder

Though not all the same, the Roman shoulder, military shoulder and equestrian shoulder are all strongly structured shoulders with a straight line and generous padding. Though the shoulders may be built up, they aren’t necessarily stiff. The width and amount of padding vary depending on the tailor and depending on the current trends. Characterised by a clean, strong silhouette, the Roman style has its origins in the military and equestrian style on Savile Row. H. Huntsman is a good example of a Savile Row tailor who makes an equestrian style. Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig have all worn this style shoulder in the Bond films.

Most of Roger Moore’s suits in The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker come from Angelo Roma. These suits have narrow, straight shoulders with thick padding and roped sleeveheads.

Timothy Dalton wears suits in Licence to Kill with the straight, oversized shoulders that were popular at the time. Though his suit is more characteristic of something from a Milan fashion house, the idea of a straight, built-up shoulder is the same.

Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig have both worn suits from Brioni, the most famous Roman tailor. Brioni’s shoulders are very similar to what Angelo made for Roger Moore, though they tend to be wider. When Brosnan started the role in 1995, Brioni’s shoulders were wider and more built up, following the 1990s trends, and by The World is Not Enough had a more classic Roman look (see the top image).