This week’s “Basted for Bond” infographic features George Lazenby’s Dimi Major jackets, trousers, waistcoats and coats. The clothes have a classic English cut with some fashionable updates for the 1960s, like a short jacket length and narrow straight-leg trousers. Jacket variations presented here include Lazenby’s dinner jacket, his wedding lounge jacket and his double-breasted blazer. His car coat and caped ulster coat are also included.
Dimi Major is known to James Bond fans as the tailor who made George Lazenby’s suits for his role as 007 in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. D. Major Bespoke Tailors Ltd. continues today under the ownership of Dimi’s son Andrew Major and Andrew’s sister. Andrew Major was kind enough to answer a number of questions for me about the history of the firm and the firm’s work on On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Even though Major Tailors only did work for one James Bond film, their clothing played a substantial part in the look of the film and is one reason why the film holds up well today.
Dimi Major and the history of D. Major Bespoke Tailors
Dimi Major was originally trained to be a tailor by his father, and then moved to London where he worked at Bailey and Weatherill—known to readers of this blog as Patrick Macnee’s tailor for The Avengers—for almost a decade. By that the end of his tenure at Bailey and Weatherill, Major was ready to open his own business where he lived in the Fulham area of London, and since 1959 Major Tailors has been located there at 11 Royal Parade, Dawes Road. Andrew said it was very important to his father to own his premises.
For a few years in the 1960s, Douglas Hayward, later known one of London’s most famous celebrity tailors, formed a partnership with Major called Major Hayward. Hayward is known to James Bond fans as the tailor who made Roger Moore’s suits in his three Bond films from the 1980s, and he is also know for formerly being the to Michael Caine, Terence Stamp and many others. Hayward left Major in 1966 when he moved in with shirtmaker Frank Foster on Pall Mall and later acquired his own premises in Mayfair in 1968. Andrew told me that his father and Hayward remained friends until Major’s death in 2004.
Andrew Major cuts and fits all of Major Tailor’s garments, and he was trained by his father. The silhouette of the suits he cuts is still similar to what Major made for On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. He said about the cut:
My father always aimed for an elegantly shaped cut, with soft shoulders and a medium-weight canvas for the coat and a slim but not over-fitted line to the trousers. The emphasis has always been on a classic look with a nod to the fashion of the day, without adopting the often fleeting extremes of style. Of course, as bespoke tailors we aim to give our clients what they want while always trying to advise them on what looks most flattering for them. The suits we make tend to last quite a long time, so in the long run it is advisable to avoid being too faddish. This remains our ethos to the present day.
This cut is still the same as what Dimi Major made for George Lazenby in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Lazenby’s suit jackets have a 1960s flair and were made with slightly short with narrower trousers than a classic look would prescribe, but they were certainly not too faddish and do not look out of date today. Major’s attitude towards the fashions of the day is shared by most tailors, even many Savile Row tailors. A good tailor tries to make the client look his or her best above all else.
Major Tailors and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
Dimi Major made most of George Lazenby’s tailored wardrobe for On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Not only did he make the suits, dinner jackets, sports coats and trousers, but also the three-quarter-length peacoat-like overcoat and the Victorian Ulster coat for the Sir Hilary Bray disguise. Andrew Major could not find any records that they made Lazenby’s infamous highland dress, though the firm has made a number of jackets for highland dress over the years but not kilts.
Not only did Major make clothes for George Lazenby, but they also made clothes for Bernard Lee (M), Gabriele Ferzetti (Draco) and Telly Savalas (Blofeld). For Lee they made two three-piece outfits (though not suits), though there are no records for his green velvet smoking jacket. Andrew Major told me that they have made similar smoking jackets for clients, who want a less complicated smoking jacket that is styled more like a dinner jacket, like M’s is. For Ferzetti they made his navy nailhead three-piece suit and his black lounge outfit for the wedding. Ferzetti’s jackets have stronger shoulders than Lazenby’s have, and that could have been requested by costume designer Marjory Cornelius to give Ferzetti’s suits are more continental look. For Savalas they made the overcoat with the astrakhan collar. Andrew Major said “I know that my father was very proud of his work when he saw it on screen.” After all, Major was responsible for creating the tailored clothing for all of the film’s male leads.
Peter Hunt, the director of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, was already a client of Dimi Major before the film was made. It is unknown if he influenced the producers to choose Major to do the tailoring for the film in the way that Terence Young brought in his tailor, Anthony Sinclair, to make suits for Sean Connery in the Bond films. Major also made at least one suit for Bond producer Harry Saltzman, though Andrew does not know when. Andrew also told me that they had made suits for another James Bond actor for personal use, but he is unable to disclose whom.
Major Tailors has tailored many stars for other films, television and theatre over the years. They made George Segal’s suits for the 1973 film A Touch of Class, which resemble George Lazenby’s suits despite having wider lapels. Tony Curtis was also a client of Major’s for many years, including at the time of The Persuaders. Andrew is unable to confirm if Curtis wore any suits from Major in the series.
You can find out more about D. Major Bespoke Tailors at MajorTailors.com
Marc Ange Draco (Gabriele Ferzetti) in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is one of Bond’s best-dressed allies of the series. He is introduced wearing a perfectly-fitted navy nailhead three-piece suit made by Dimi Major, who also made George Lazenby’s tailored clothing for the film. Nailhead is not to be confused with birdseye, but both are tiny repeating patterns. Whilst birdseye is a specific pattern of round dots with a unique weave, nailhead can be a variety of patterns. In any case, the nailhead is a pattern of squares rather than circles, or it’s a small pattern on a square grid unlike the diagonal repeat of the bridseye pattern. Draco’s nailhead suit is similar to the diagram below:
Draco’s suit jacket is a button three suit with the lapels gently rolled over the top button. It has a structured cut with straight, padded shoulders cut on the bias, gently-roped sleeveheads, a full-cut chest and a suppressed waist. The jacket’s front darts continue straight down below the jetted hip pockets to the jacket’s hem. There are three buttons on the cuffs and no vents. The suit’s waistcoat has six buttons with five to button. The suit’s trousers have a darted front, slanted side pockets and a tapered leg with deep two-inch turn-ups. The suit is trimmed with black horn buttons.
The suit overall has a very timeless style with balanced proportions. Whilst Draco’s suit doesn’t look as modern as George Lazenby’s Bond’s suits do, it doesn’t look old-fashioned either. If the jacket had pocket flaps and vents it would easily look more modern.
Draco’s pale blue shirt has a moderate spread collar, front placket and mitred two-button cuffs, with the outer button left open. The navy tie has wide grey repp stripes bordered by narrower champagne-coloured stripes, with the stripes in the British direction. Draco ties it in a four-in-hand knot. He finishes the outfit with black shoes and a red carnation in his lapel.
Later in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service Draco wears a dark grey flannel chalkstripe double-breasted suit that isn’t seen much. The suit jacket has the same straight, padded shoulders with roped sleeveheads that the three-piece navy nailhead suit has. The very wide peaked lapels with a considerable amount of belly, however, give the suit a distinct 1930s look. The white shirt that Draco wears with the double-breasted suit is made in the same style that he wears with the three-piece suit with a moderate spread collar and front placket. The tie has repeated sections of small mid blue, turquoise and green stripes on a navy ground, and Draco ties it in a four-in-hand knot.
Whilst the front of a jacket is defined by the number of buttons it has, the back is defined by the number of vents. The front of the jacket has different kinds of lapels and pockets to break it up and give it interest whilst the back has only vents. The vents are a very important part of the jacket since they add functionality as well as distinguish the look of the back.
Single vents (also called centre vents) are when the centre back seam of the jacket is opened at the bottom. Single vents are most associated with American clothing, but like most origins in tailoring they come from England. Single vents were developed for riding, and the single vent splits the jacket’s skirt evenly on either side of the horse. Naturally, the hacking jacket, like what Sean Connery wears in Goldfinger and George Lazenby wears in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, has a single vent, and it’s quite a long single vent (12 to 13 inches) so it has enough room to split neatly over the back of a horse. Many of Sean Connery’s and Daniel Craig’s suit jackets also have single vents, which is the most tradition vent style on a single-breasted jacket. Single vents have the disadvantage of exposing the buttocks in action scenes or when a man reaches his hands into his trouser pockets. It’s a bit less of a disadvantage with a body like Daniel Craig’s, though double vents would still look neater.
On suit jackets, the length of a single vents typically range from 8 to 10 inches.1960s fashions sometimes resulted in shorter vents around six inches long, though James Bond never succumbed to this fashion. Longer vents of around 12 to 13 inches were popular in the 1970s and early 1980s, though the only long single vents Bond wears at that time are on his safari-esque sports coats in The Man with the Golden Gun and The Spy Who Loved Me.
Double vents (also called side vents) are when the rear side seams are opened at the bottom, and they are typically associated with English tailoring. Double vents didn’t become standard for English tailors until the late 1960s. At that time it was more of a trend, but the trend stuck. Before the late 1960s, English tailors generally would put single vents on single-breasted jackets and double vents on double-breasted jackets. This system creates a symmetry between the front and back of the jacket. Double-breasted jackets should never have single vents, only double vents if it has vents. Double-breasted jackets take double vents on the back to balance the double columns of buttons in front.
For the past decade, double vents have been very popular and can be found on Italian clothing and American clothing. Currently, double vents are most popular on English, American and Italian tailoring. They haven’t been this popular in America since the 1960s and in Italy since the 1970s. Double vents are dressier than single vents, though they still have their origins in riding like single vents have. They allow more waist suppression than single vents do, and they allow a man to reach into his side trouser pockets with the least disruption to the lines of the jacket. They also extend the line of the leg for a slimmer and taller appearance. Like with single vents, double vents are typically 8 to 10 inches in length but varied with fashion trends. 6-inch double vents weren’t uncommon in the 1960s, and double vents up to 13 inches deep weren’t uncommon in the 1970s to the early 1980s. When over 10 inches, double vents can be a bit unruly, but that’s part of the charm.
Double vents sometimes continue the line of the side seams straight down, which can cause the vents to stick out over the rear. The double vents on Sean Connery’s Anthony Sinclair suits are made like this and emphasise his large rear. The double vents on Roger Moore’s Cyril Castle suits and Pierce Brosnan’s Brioni suits are also made like this, but their rears aren’t as large so the style work better on them.
George Lazenby’s Dimi Major suits, Roger Moore’s Angelo and Douglas Hayward suits and Daniel Craig’s Tom Ford suits in Quantum of Solace have double vents that flare outward. By flaring out, the vents actually hang straighter down the sides of the body. This keeps the vents looking neat no matter their length. Whilst the flare is noticeable from the back, the flare gives added shape to the waist whilst masking a large rear. The flared double vents have a more English look than straighter double vents have.
Jackets without any vent are most associated with Italian clothing, and the Italians did indeed make jackets without vents in the 1950s and later in the 1980s through the early 2000s when vents were commonly found on English and American tailoring. A non-vented skirt is not an Italian style, as often stated. It’s a traditional style for all tailoring, and before vents became popular in the 1950s most jackets were made without a vent. When the non-vented style was popular in the 1980s, many sports coats were made without vents, but sports coats usually have vents due to their sporting heritage. Sean Connery wears many suit jackets without vents in his Bond films, especially in Goldfinger and Thunderball. Timothy Dalton also wears jackets without vents in Licence to Kill, a result of the trends at the time for non-vented jackets.
All of the Bond actors, except George Lazenby, have at times worn dinner jackets without vents. Roger Moore’s double-breasted dinner jackets in The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker are his only jackets of the series without vents. Vents are still considered by many to be a faux pas on a dinner jacket, since vents have sporting origins and the dinner jacket is never worn for sports. When Bond has vents on his dinner jackets they are double vents. The exception to this is the single vent on his dinner jacket in Skyfall, though single vents are too sporty and not dressy enough for dinner jackets.
Some people recommend different style jacket skirts for different types of builds. I’ve heard people say that single vents are better for a large rear than double vents are. I’ve also heard people say the opposite. Others say that no vent is best for a large rear. Poor-fitting jacket skirts can cause any kind of vents to split open or stick out. Poor-fitting double vents can have a “shelf” effect where the back flap sticks out. A tight skirt or waist with a single vent will cause the vent to open, revealing the buttocks. A tight skirt without any vents will pull the front of the jacket open at the hips and cause creasing at the back. These are all ready-to-wear issues. When the skirt of a ready-to-wear jacket is too tight, it can be difficult to fix, though letting out the waist helps in some cases. A bespoke tailor can create a well-fitting and flattering jacket skirt for any build in any vent style.
Reader TheLordFlasheart made the excellent suggestion of comparing similar outfits worn by different James Bonds throughout the series, so I had to find two outfits that I think could be compared fairly. I’ve chosen to begin with comparing George Lazenby’s and Roger Moore’s button three double-breasted blazers. These are the only two Bonds who have worn this naval-uniform-like blazer, and they wore them only five years apart. Considering Bond’s background as a commander in the Royal Navy, this is a very appropriate style for the character. In the naval tradition, both blazers have metal buttons, and both have silver-toned buttons rather than the ordinary brass. Though both blazers are English-tailored, neither have straight, uniform-like shoulders. The shoulders have less padding than military uniforms do for a more natural and civilian look. Roped sleeveheads are typical of the military style, and whilst Moore’s blazer has a little roping, Lazenby’s blazer doesn’t have any. Both blazers, however, have a clean and fitted military-like cut through the body.
The two blazers have the appropriate detail of double vents, though both also have the then-trendy detail of slanted pockets. Slanted pockets are also known as “hacking pockets” because of their equestrian origins, and the blazer’s origins are quite far from that. That makes slanted pockets an unconventional choice for a blazer—especially a double-breasted blazer—but it was nevertheless a fashionable choice. Though unconventional and trendy, I rather like the rakish slanted pockets. Lazenby’s blazer adds a ticket pocket.
Some aspects of fashion had changed significantly between On Her Majesty’s Secret Service in 1969 and The Man with the Golden Gun 1974. As far as the blazer is concerned, those differences are in length and lapel width. Though Lazenby’s single-breasted jackets have medium-width lapels, the double-breasted blazer has narrow peaked lapels similar to those on a Royal Navy uniform. Roger Moore’s blazer has wider lapels, but since it’s double-breasted the lapels don’t proportionately look too wide. Lieutenant Hip shows how ridiculously wide double-breasted lapels could be in 1974, with the points only about a quarter-inch from touching the armhole. Lazenby’s blazer is slightly shorter than Moore’s traditional-length blazer, which was a trend in the late 1960s. Moore’s blazer has a slightly narrower wrap than Lazenby’s blazer, which was the way Moore’s tailor Cyril Castle cut double-breasted jackets and didn’t reflect any particular trends. Lazenby’s blazer adds the sporty detail of swelled edges, whilst Moore’s has the unique link-button cuffs.
Trouser leg width changed more than anything else between 1969 and 1974. We don’t see much of the trousers that Moore wears with his blazer, but it’s assumed he wears trousers with a slightly flared leg. Lazenby’s trousers are very narrow with a straight leg, though they are still neatly tailored. Lazenby’s trousers are light grey and Moore’s trousers are charcoal and white, respectively.
Frank Foster made both Moore’s and Lazenby’s shirts. Moore wears his blazer with a blue and white mini-Bengal stripe shirt and a white shirt, whilst Lazenby wears his blazer with sky blue and pink shirts. Lazenby’s shirts have a narrower collar than Moore’s shirts have, and the collar choices were probably what Foster or the costume designer through looked best on the actors rather than what fashion trends dictated. Lazenby’s shirts have single-button cuffs whilst Moore’s shirts have cocktail cuffs. Lazenby’s ties are medium-width navy and red knitted ties, and Moore’s ties are wide slate blue satin and white and navy striped. The tie width, of course, matches the lapel width.
Though Lazenby’s look would certainly look more fashionable today than Moore’s would, I think both Lazenby and Moore wear their blazers very well. Both dress in good taste and neither commit any sartorial sins. Who do you think wore the button three double-breasted blazer better?
Bond’s second hacking jacket of the series is a bit more bold than the first one, but it’s just as traditional. Goldfinger features Bond’s first hacking jacket, a subtle barleycorn tweed. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service features Bond’s second hacking jacket, a bolder houndstooth tweed. But it’s a rather simple check, in black, brown and cream with a red overcheck. The jacket is made by Dimi Major, with lightly padded shoulders, a swelled chest, a nipped waist and a flared skirt. It’s a button three with one button on the cuffs and the hacking jacket features of slanted pockets and a deep single vent. Slanted pockets are easier to access on horseback whilst the deep vent helps the jacket to split in back over the horse.
Bond almost never fastens the top button on his button three jackets. On most of Bond’s button three jackets the lapels gently roll at the top button. Here, Lazenby interrupts the roll by fastening the top button. Dimi Major cuts his button three jackets to look great either with both to the top and middle buttons closed or just the middle button closed. Unlike ordinary sports coats, riding jackets are longer and have three buttons placed higher on the chest, with all three meant to fasten. Lazenby’s hacking jacket is cut like a typical sports coat, meaning the bottom button isn’t meant to fasten. Closing the top button puts this jacket more in the spirit of riding jackets. But fastening the top button is also necessary to hold in the day cravat.
The beige shirt has a stock collar, which extends around to close at the left side of the neck instead of the front. It looks unbroken across the front and is meant to be worn with a stock tie or a day cravat, of which Bond wears the latter. Bond’s cravat is also beige and is worn with a pin. The beige jodhpurs—likely made of cavalry twill wool due to its elastic properties—are worn with a belt and fit into Bond’s tall, black riding boots. Since I’m not involved in the equestrian world, I cannot judge the appropriateness of the outfit. The only part of this outfit that may be worn outside of equestrian activity is the hacking jacket, and the rest of the outfit should be limited to equestrian pursuits.
In A View to a Kill, Roger Moore wears another equestrian outfit, but with a conventional shirt and knitted tie.
George Lazenby’s car coat in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is a hybrid of different overcoat styles. It’s a navy three-quarter length, double-breasted coat with elements from the British Warm and the pea coat. Like a British Warm it has six buttons on the front with three to button and suit-like pockets. Like a pea coat it has a large Ulster collar and broad lapels, which allow the coat to button at the top. It has a deeper single vent than most overcoats, one button on the cuffs and slanted hacking pockets with flaps. The mix of styles on this coat works well together. Though Lazenby wears the coat in a city setting over a chalkstripe suit and, later, a navy blazer, the coat can also be worn almost as casually as a pea coat can be. Lazenby wears the coat with a navy trilby and black leather driving gloves.
Marc Ange Draco (Gabriele Ferzetti), the father of the bride, wears the most traditional version of black lounge at James and Tracy Bond’s wedding. Like George Lazenby, Ferzetti’s clothes were also tailored by Dimi Major. Draco’s button one lounge coat has notched lapels, flapped pockets, three-button cuffs and no vents. The shoulders are straight with roped sleeveheads. The waistcoat matches the jacket in black and has six buttons with five to button. The trousers are in the traditional cashmere stripe pattern, most likely cut with a darted front and worn with braces.
Draco’s white shirt has a tall spread collar with short points and has mitred barrel cuffs. Whilst a striped tie isn’t the traditional choice for a wedding, the colour scheme is right in black, silver, white and pink and is perfect for the occasion. The stripes go in the British direction, from lower on the right-hand side to higher on the left-hand side. The shoes are black, and most likely they are cap-toe oxfords. With the rest of the wedding party, Draco wears a white carnation in his lapel.