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The closet of James Bond reveals timeless style

Craig and Judi Dench as MI6 head M, in a scene from the film “Skyfall.”

NEW YORK: If he’s particular enough to like his martini shaken not stirred, James Bond probably likes his trousers trim not tight.

Same goes for the tuxedo that’s formal and not fussy, and any sweater in his closet will surely be cashmere: perfectly casual and cool.

Although the superspy first appeared on-screen 50 years ago, he never wants to look out-of-date.

Costume designer Jany Temime says her mantra for the wardrobe of the latest Bond film, “Skyfall,” was “iconic for 2012.”

It’s like she was shopping for people she knows – even if they are fictional characters – instead of creating a wardrobe for a movie, she explains.

“I didn’t follow fashion, I followed the script. But I know these characters, and I know what he or she would wear and why. I really tried to ask, ‘What would that character really buy?’” Temime said.

Suits – lots of them, and most by Tom Ford – were high on the list for Daniel Craig, who is taking his third turn as Bond and is known to favor Ford’s clothing both on screen as Bond and in his personal life.

“In my first meeting with Daniel, he told me what he wanted,” Temime says. “He wanted slim-fitting clothing that was easy to move [in], but I also got the feeling he wanted a slightly ’60s look.”

Roger Moore, who played Bond in seven films through the 1970s and ’80s, says some of his flared trousers and wide-collared shirts wouldn’t cut it today, but some of the suits, and especially the tuxedos and dinner jackets, probably would.

Unfortunately, he isn’t wearing them now. “Those outfits were made 20 or 30 years ago, and waistlines change. I did, at the time, enjoy the wardrobe, but I also developed a taste for the good food and wine Bond liked,” Moore says with a laugh.

Moore’s book “Bond on Bond” was published last month, and it devotes a chapter to 007’s dapper style. Sean Connery, who played Bond first in 1962, favored skinny-lapel gray suits that hold up well over time. The same cannot be said of the terry cloth romper he wore on the set of “Goldfinger.”

Pierce Brosnan wore a British Royal Navy uniform for the role, and most Bonds don a swimsuit at some point. Sporty clothes actually pose a bit of a problem, Temime says, because they don’t look as sexy as Bond should.

Generally, though, Bond has a fairly restrained style because he doesn’t want to draw too much attention.

Moore quotes Bond author Ian Fleming in “The Man With the Golden Gun,” where the clothes were described as “dark-blue single-breasted suit, white shirt, thin black knitted silk tie, and black casuals as his ‘usual rig.’”

That look came easily for the Savile Row tailors in London, where Bond would have purchased his clothes.

By the time Brosnan took over the role in 1995, the Italian fashion house Brioni was making the suits, explains Angelo Petrucci, the label’s master tailor, although they were done in the English style with longer jackets and higher rises instead of the Roman style, which would have more tapered legs and shorter rises.

“For me, James Bond is representative of class,” Petrucci says. Bond wears so many suits, he muses, because he likes power, and that’s what men so often feel in a made-to-measure trouser and jacket. “The suit can give you confidence, and James Bond has confidence.”

The women he encounters are hardly shrinking violets, and they too understand how to use their wardrobe to their advantage.

Temime dressed “Skyfall” co-stars Naomie Harris and Berenice Marlohe in styles worthy of their predecessors, such as Halle Berry and Ursula Andress, who both wore bikinis with holsters, and Barbara Bach, whose thigh-high slit gowns were really up to there.

For Marlohe, Temime envisioned an Ava Gardner type. She required two knockout gowns, one a second-skin L’Wren Scott number that Marlohe had to be sewn into each morning and the other a red, slinky Donna Karan.

“When you think of the iconic Bond girl, you think sexy, smart, strong and, of course, a killer body,” says Karan.

Harris needed high-action clothes and ends up in a Belstaff jacket, tank top and leather trousers.

For Craig’s opening chase scene he needed a suit that could do every move 007 had to make. That meant 40 of the same suit, since one needed longer sleeves as he rode a motorcycle, another needed reinforced knees – and there were the ones that could be splattered with blood and those that couldn’t. Sometimes the filmmakers would shoot scenes out of order, so Temime would need a ripped suit before she’d need the clean one.

The budget didn’t skimp on quality.

“The quality of the clothes were so exceptional that Daniel could run through water, dirt and jump off a train, then dust it off and it’ll be perfect again,” Temime said.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on November 13, 2012, on page 13.

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