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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Daniel Craig wears a charcoal blue Brioni suit in Casino Royale

Sulka Shirts

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Pierce Brosnan wears white poplin, ivory poplin and blue end-on-end shirts as well as a pleated fly-front dress shirt from Sulka in GoldenEye. Originally a New York company, Sulka expanded to have stores elsewhere in the United States, in London on Old Bond Street and in Paris. Sulka closed its last store in 2002. Sulka was amongst the world’s finest men’s clothing shops, and costume designer Lindy Hemming made an excellent choice to dress James Bond in their shirts and ties for GoldenEye.

Sulka-ShirtBrosnan’s shirts have a moderate spread collar, bordering on a point collar. The collar points are about 2 3/4″ long, and the collar has about 3/8″ tie space. Brosnan wears shirts from Sulka with both double cuffs and button cuffs. The double cuffs have the link holes placed slightly off-centre further the fold, which keeps the cuff neater but hides the cufflinks further into the jacket sleeves. The button cuffs are rounded with a single button. The collar and cuffs are stitched 1/4″ from the edge, as they traditionally are. The placket is 1 3/8″ wide and stitched 3/8″ from the edge. The shirts have shoulder pleats under the split yoke in the back.

Cool in Cuba

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On his arrival in Cuba in GoldenEye, Bond wears a linen or linen blend twill suit made by Brioni. The twill suiting is two-tone, woven with light brown and white yarns to effectively look tan overall. The twill weave helps the linen to wrinkle less than it would in plain weaves, though it’s not going to breathe as well. But since it’s linen it still wears cool. The button three suit jacket is full cut with straight shoulders. It has swelled edges, button three cuffs and straight pockets with flaps. The trousers have a wide leg with double or triple reverse pleats, and the bottoms are finished with turn-ups. Bond wears the suit trousers without the jacket on the beach and rolls up the bottoms.

Goldeneye-Tan-Suit-2Bond’s white shirt from Sulka is most likely linen or a blend of linen and cotton. This shirt has a moderate spread collar, front placket, shoulder pleats and double cuffs. Double cuffs are a little out of place with this rather casual suit, but Bond isn’t committing a faux pas either by wearing them. Double cuffs would look more congruous if Bond were wearing a tie, however, this suit is casual enough that it can work well the way Bond wears it without a tie. Bond’s shoes are medium brown brogues, which look rather heavy for such a light suit. On the other hand, the Persol sunglasses are the perfect accessory for a linen suit in Cuba.

Le Chiffre’s Velvet Dinner Jacket

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Although there was an attempt to make Mads Mikklesen’s Le Chiffre in Casino Royale a less flamboyant villain, at the poker table he wears a flashy black velvet dinner jacket with a black shirt. Costume designer Lindy Hemming describes Le Chiffre and his dinner jacket in Casino Royale‘s production notes: “Le Chiffre is a menacing man who lives in a twilight world. He’s not flashy, he’s secretive. He isn’t a man who is much interested in clothes, but what he wears is expensive and luxurious. His Brioni evening suit is velvet, to emphasize richness.” The all-black outfit, nevertheless, is something that identifies him as a villain. The button two dinner jacket has black grosgrain silk facings on the peaked lapels, breast pocket welt, hip pocket jettings and buttons. The jacket has four buttons on the cuffs, and Le Chiffre leaves the last one open. Beyond the velvet cloth, the dinner jacket breaks from tradition with a second button on the front, pocket flaps and a single vent.

Le-Chiffre-Velvet-Dinner-Jacket-2The button four waistcoat matches the black velvet dinner jacket, with the back in a black silk lining. Though proper black tie waistcoats have either three or four buttons, the buttons should be spaced close together and not further apart as they would on a button five or button six daytime waistcoat. The buttons on Le Chiffre’s waistcoat are spaced apart like on a daytime waistcoat, and as one would on a daytime waistcoat Le Chiffre leaves the bottom button open. On the traditional low-cut black tie waistcoat all of the buttons should be fastened. Even though Le Chiffre’s waistcoat is poorly done, four buttons are better than the all-too-common five or six buttons that people often wear today.

Le-Chiffre-Velvet-Dinner-Jacket-3The wool trousers contrast the dinner jacket in texture, if not in colour as well. The trousers look dark grey in some shots and photos, but they are probably black. Velvet reflects far less light than other fabrics do, so comparing different black materials can be difficult. Le Chiffre wears the trousers with braces. The black dress shirt from Turnbull & Asser has a spread collar, double cuffs, a pleated front and a fly placket that hides the buttons. He wears a black bow tie and black calf derby shoes.

Le-Chiffre-Velvet-Dinner-Jacket-4Le Chiffre also has a black overcoat, but we only see him carrying it and not wearing it. He also has a grey scarf with crosswise stripes, and it’s most likely cashmere.

Le Chiffre’s black tie outfit sold for £20,000 at Christie’s in South Kensington at “50 Years of James Bond: The Auction”, which took place from 28 September 2012 to 8 October 2012.

The Sunspel Polo Shirt

Sunspel-Polo

In Casino Royale, Daniel Craig wears a Sunspel “Riviera” polo shirt. The fitted navy polo is made from knitted cotton mesh and has a self collar, two-button placket and a breast pocket. This is the first time Bond wears a polo shirt since Thunderball, and it’s a welcome return. Craig wears the polo with khaki, jean-style, five-pocket trousers with a wide, straight leg. The cloth is most likely cotton, in a weave that’s a cross between bedford cord and a basketweave, and they are worn with a dark brown belt. The shoes are tobacco suede chukka boots.

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Navy Single-Breasted Overcoat

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With his charcoal serge suit in Die Another Day, Pierce Brosnan wears his second overcoat in the film. It is a navy full-length, single-breasted, button-three coat from Brioni. It has slanted flap pockets with a ticket pocket and four-button cuffs. Though we don’t see it from the back is most likely has a deep single vent. A navy overcoat may be the most versatile coat in a man’s wardrobe, and it looks great day or night. Bond has worn many navy overcoats throughout the series, starting with George Lazenby’s double-breasted three-quarter coat. But this is only the second time Bond wears a scarf in the series, the first being Bond’s masquerade as Sir Hilary Bray in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Here it’s solid grey, and he wears it draped around the neck.

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Charcoal Serge Suit

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In Die Another Day, Pierce Brosnan briefly wears a charcoal serge suit. It’s his typical Brioni button three suit with straight shoulders and roped sleeveheads. Charcoal serge is a great year-round cloth in a temperate climate. Serge is a basic four-harness twill weave with 45-degree wales on both sides. It’s great for suits and—in navy—blazers. Brosnan wears the suit with a white Brioni shirt that has a wide spread collar, double cuffs and a front placket. His mid-blue tie has a tiny pebbled or honeycomb pattern, similar to grenadine garza fina silk. But the tie’s texture is probably woven with floats instead. It’s tied in a four-in-hand knot. Brosnan enters the scene wearing an overcoat and scarf, which I will look at in more detail later.

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Leather Jacket in Combat

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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.

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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.

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