Ooooh James... put some clothes on

With the first trailer for the 25th Bond film No Time to Die giving us a peak into Daniel Craig’s final outing as 007, Josh Sims breaks down his sartorial ‘legacy’.
DANIEL CRAIG as James Bond in No Time To Die. (Credit Image: © MGM/Entertainment Pictures/Alamy).
Wait. Hang on. Yes. James Bond is set to wear a cosy sweater in ‘No Time to Die’, the 25th film in the British movie franchise and Daniel Craig’s last outing - no, really this time - as Bond. Sure, as the first, recently released trailer for the forthcoming film suggests, it’s a nice sweater: a boat-neck ribbed fisherman’s style, worn over a white t-shirt. But this is Down-the-Pub Bond - “Heineken - cask not bottle” - and rather like the wardrobe department forgot to change Craig between trailer and set. There’s even Rami ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ Malek as the villain, all pouty lip and looking like he’s set to burst into “mama, just killed a man...” But where’s the hero for whom being well turned-out is as important as being well-hard?
Craig-era Bond - five films over 14 years - may have successfully re-booted the franchise for post-Bourne times, with Craig’s acting chops bringing a much needed psychological depth to the character. Yet arguably it’s been something of a let-down in sartorial terms. The trailer shows Bond in a bar, dangerously close to being mistaken as a waiter in that crisply-collared, open-necked black shirt. Or in more of those rather pedestrian, overly-fitted suits - a little too ordinary, a little too functional, a little too middle-management, too, let’s say it, high-street. In ‘No Time to Die’ Bond even wears a tie-clip, the least confident accessory in the male wardrobe - even if you are a secret agent who might want to keep a flapping tie from getting in the way of, say, saving the world. What could be used expressively - helping to give fullness to the tie - rather just sits there, looking cheap and shiny.
      Of course, the various production teams who have worked on the Craig films have not been afraid to nod to Bonds of the past, specifically the Sean Connery period - which had the huge advantage in being first, but also of being first during the 1960s too, when British stylishness was at a premium. There’s Craig in Spectre, in that ivory dinner jacket, referencing Connery in Goldfinger, right down to the red carnation boutonniere. More recently, there’s been Craig in the Aston Martin DB5 - in No Time to Die complete with pop-out machine guns. All Craig needs is a toupe and he’d be the full Sean. There’s clearly been some desire to tap the wide affection felt for the Connery movies and their style.
      But these touches come across as homage, when the films could have taken another page or two from the wardrobes of past Bonds. Rather, they’ve played safe. This, it could be said, is a product of character development: Craig’s Bond is more the tough man and less the mannequin; brutality trumps suavity. Given the faster editing of 21st century action films, there’s a reluctance in the camera to linger on the details of the clothing - which, back in the 1960s and 1970s of course, helped set Bond apart as a glamorous figure in times when such dress wasn’t typically available to your average man in the audience. But it’s those tailored clothes - the subtle sharkskin cloth, the longer line of a jacket or its particular shade of blue, for example - that helped make Connery’s Bond so iconic. Controversially perhaps, Pierce Brosnan’s Bond - with his tailoring’s more defined shoulders and preference for a three-piece suit - pulled off much the same.
      None of this is to say that past Bonds have been exemplary in their style. Some have been very much of their time, and so, in retrospect, very much out of time: Timothy Dalton’s 80s baggy jackets; Roger Moore’s ruffle-fronted dress shirts and safari suits (thankfully not at the same time); George Lazenby’s Bond as comedy Scotsman, or that British khaki zip-up suit and orange sweater, for a game of golf. Even Connery’s Bond suffered the occasional mishap: check out the pink tie he wears half-mast in ‘Diamonds Are Forever’ - who needs a tie-clip? Or - and admittedly many love this - that baby blue terrycloth playsuit in ‘Goldfinger’.


        December 2019


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