Happy 65th birthday to Pierce Brosnan!
Though Pierce Brosnan missed out on playing James Bond a year earlier, he was able to dress the part in a peaked-lapel dinner suit on three occasions in the 1988 serial Noble House, based on a novel by James Clavell. Noble House gives us a good look at what Pierce Brosnan may have looked like if he had played James Bond in The Living Daylights as was originally planned. Just try to ignore the frosted hair that he sports here in an attempt to age him beyond his early 30s. Noble House was filmed around the same time The Living Daylights was filmed.
Pierce Brosnan plays Ian Dunross, the tai-pan (the head) of the oldest and largest British-East Asia trading company. A man in this position would be expected to frequently attend formal events, and he would be presumed to know how to properly follow the black tie dress code. Like James Bond, Dunross is comfortable and confident in a dinner jacket, and he is a master of black tie.
In his dinner suit in Noble House, Pierce Brosnan is dressed similarly to how he dresses in black tie both as Remington Steele and as James Bond. Either his costume designers all think alike, or Pierce Brosnan is able to provide input to the clothes he wears. Louise Frogley, who is responsible for the classic and elegant costume design on Daniel Craig in Quantum of Solace, is the costume designer for Noble House. The clothes for this serial were most likely either tailored in Hong Kong, where it was filmed, or in the United States, where Pierce Brosnan and the production were based.
Brosnan’s black two-piece dinner suit features an elegantly cut button one jacket with straight and padded shoulders, gently roped sleeve heads, a clean chest and a gently suppressed waist. The medium-width peaked lapels—Brosnan’s favoured lapel style in many of his roles—are faced in matte black silk, likely in a ribbed weave like faille to match the ribbed silk bow tie. There are three buttons on each cuff, and the dinner jacket’s buttons are black horn. The rear of the jacket has no vents. The only non-traditional detail on this dinner jacket is pocket flaps, which add an unnecessary bulk to the hips. Dinner jackets traditionally have simple double-jetted pockets without flaps for a clean and formal look.
The dinner suit’s trousers have double reverse pleats and a waistband with a square extension that has a hook and eye closure. The legs are straight and have a medium width, with the customary black silk stripe down either side.
The dinner suit is made in a mostly timeless style that ignores the trends in mid 1980s tailoring. The jacket has a clean fit without unnecessary bagginess, and though the shoulders have padding, the padding is not excessive. The shoulders are a perfectly balanced width for Brosnan, with some extension but not too wide. The button stance is low for a flattering shape, but it is not too low. The lapels are a medium width, with a high gorge rather than the trendy low gorge of the time. The trousers are not baggy, though the legs look rather columnar by today’s standards. A bit more taper would be welcome, but the shape is far from offensive.
On all three occasions in Noble House that Brosnan wears this dinner suit, he wears it with the same dress shirt and bow tie. Changing up the shirt and bow tie is an easy way to have more fun with black tie with only one dinner suit, and this is a missed opportunity to show more variety in an inexpensive manner. Such a character would certainly own more than one dress shirt and bow tie. The white cotton shirt has a point collar, double cuffs and a pleated front with a front placket to house studs. The placket is stitched 1/4 inch from the edge, and the pleats on the front of the shirt are 1/4″ deep to match the placket stitching.
The shirt has three visible studs above where the jacket fastens. When Brosnan unfastens his dinner jacket, one button can be seen above the waistband of the trousers. A traditional cummerbund or low-cut waistcoat would hide this button, but without a waist-covering Brosnan is forced to keep his dinner jacket buttoned all times when in polite company. The shirt studs are black onyx in a gold setting, and the cufflinks match the studs.
The black bow tie is a wide butterfly in moire silk, which has a ribbed weave with an iridescent watered finish. A moire silk bow tie is an excellent complement to ribbed lapel facings such as faille, grosgrain and ottoman silks because moire silk is also ribbed. The shoes are black lace-ups, possibly in patent leather. Brosnan completes the outfit with a white puffed silk pocket square, something that Brosnan wore with his dinner suits previous in Remington Steele and would later also featured in GoldenEye.
Noble House features other actors from the James Bond series, such as John Rhys-Davies from The Living Daylights (which he filmed just before filming this) and Burt Kwouk from Goldfinger, You Only Live Twice and the 1967 Casino Royale spoof.