After the release of Spectre, James Bond made his 24th big screen appearance. Throughout all the films – even in the dubious era of the ‘70s – and innumerable perilous situations, the world’s deadliest secret agent has always been dressed to the nines. Bond’s clothes are as much a part of his persona as his gun, car and double-0 prefix: part armor, part protective coloring, and all kinds of suave. Bespoke tailoring has been a part of Bond’s arsenal since the very first movie, a very British tradition carried on by Daniel Craig-as-Bond to this day. Here’s a look at the five best bespoke tailors in 007’s storied wardrobe, all of them still doing a roaring trade today:
1. Anthony Sinclair: The Mayfair stalwart may not be on Savile Row but 007’s original tailor invented what is known s the “Conduit Cut” – named after the street where his shop still stands. Sean Connery adopted it from the start, appreciating the natural shoulder, roped sleeve head, degree of chest drape, suppressed waist and slightly flared skirt, very flattering to the figure but without being overly built up. Sinclair’s aim was to create well dressed men, rather than those who stood out, with clothes representing “the epitome of English style: simple, understated, elegant and timeless.”
2. Turnbull & Asser: In the first several Bond films, the ones which truly defined the secret agent’s style, Sean Connery sported custom shirts and ties from Turnbull, perhaps the world’s most prestigious haberdasher. Established in 1885, and holder of a Royal Warrant to the Prince of Wales for shirt-making, Turnbull has dressed everyone from Winston Churchill and Pablo Picasso to Ronald Reagan and George Bush. The shirtmaker’s distinctive turn back cuffs were first introduced into 007’s wardrobe by dapper Dr. No and Thunderball director Terence Young, an ex-Guards officer.
3. Douglas Hayward: Bond’s last English tailor – though we have hopes he may yet return to Old Blighty. Hayward initially set out to provide an alternative to the stuffiness of Savile Row, and his premises on Mount Street quickly became established as Hollywood’s second home. In addition to dressing Roger Moore as Bond starting with For Your Eyes Only he suited Steve McQueen as Thomas Crown and Michael Caine in The Italian Job. Considering it was the 1980s the clothes he made for 007 are actually rather restrained, though sometimes his lapels veered off into enemy territory.
4. Brioni: The brief in outfitting Pierce Brosnan, who took up the role of 007 starting with 1995’s Goldeneye, was to rein in the excesses of the Roger Moore era and return a refined elegance to Bond’s wardrobe. The rich, dark clothes of Rome’s fabled House of Brioni, established in 1945, were chosen for the right combination of impeccable style and good taste, modern but not overly “fashionable.” As GoldenEye director Martin Campbell noted, “Bond has been on the screen for over 30 years and there are some things you don’t tamper with – one of which is his tailored suits.”
5. Tom Ford: Again with a new 007 it was time for a new tailor, and former Gucci creative director Ford was tasked with building the new Bond’s wardrobe. This was in part the preference of Daniel Craig, who liked the way Ford’s clothes draped his muscular frame and brought a touch of glamor to his always impeccably tailored togs. Staying away from Ford’s more louche and Hollywood-esque flourishes he achieved a sort of lethal elegance that plays very well onscreen. For Spectre, Ford created an homage to the classic ivory dinner jacket made famous by Sean Connery in Goldfinger.
Jared Paul Stern has written for the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, GQ, WWD, Vogue, New York magazine, Details, Hamptons magazine, Playboy, BlackBook, the New York Post, Bergdorf Goodman magazine and Luxist among others. He is also the founding editor of the Page Six magazine.