Noble House: Pierce Brosnan’s Peaked-Lapel Dinner Suit

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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.

Pierce Brosnan with co-stars John Rhys-Davies and Deborah Raffin

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.

17 COMMENTS

  1. A very elegant and timeless look. Even though the tipped hair is a little silly it does highlight his waves in a way that suits him very well!

    I have a very similar body shape to Brosnan in his younger years and soon I hope to purchase a dinner suit in a similar look. It’s good to know that I can have a dinner suit that will look great even while having a body that goes straight up and down! I particularly love the slight belly to the lapels. Peak lapels with completely straight sides always looked a bit dramatic for my taste.

    • I feel that bellied peak lapels actually look more dramatic, but in a good way. It adds some visual weight to one’s top half. The narrow, straight-sided peak lapels which are popular now tend to look unexciting.

      Honestly, it’s hard for anyone with your body shape to look bad unless you get something especially ill-fitting. I used to be the same, but things changed pretty dramatically once I hit 30! Good luck on your dinner suit.

  2. Nice post for Brosnan’s birthday, Matt and yes, it’s a far more aesthetically pleasing ensemble than Dalton’s version. Noble House features quite a nicely put together wardrobe with, as you say yourself, a more timeless feel than Bond’s from 1986-89. I feel confident that Pierce wouldn’t have let the side down sartorially had he appeared in Licence to Kill instead of Dalton. As we saw from his subsequent Bond outings and more, he does the whole “open neck shirt with a suit” look a lot better than most while Dalton, unfortunately, failed to pull it off at all and the components of his wardrobe were a major factor in this.

    • *Sigh* depressing ( but predictable) that the same old people use a review of a Pierce Brosnan TV series to repeatedly insult Timothy Dalton, who has zero connection to the TV show in question.

      • But my first thought after seeing License to Kill was, “what happened to Bond’s elegance?” Some of us old-time Bond fans couldn’t get over Dalton’s sloppiness. My second thought, of course, was, “what happened to all the fun?”

      • Thank you for making my point. This is a post about an outfit from a Pierce Brosnan TV series and has nothing to do with either Timothy Dalton or Licence To Kill.

      • The first paragraph of this article mentions that this is how Pierce Brosnan could have looked if he were James Bond instead of Timothy Dalton, since Brosnan was hired to played Bond instead of Dalton at this time. Thus, it is fair to make comparisons between Brosnan and Dalton. While Noble House is only a fair comparison with The Living Daylights, which was made around the same time, Brosnan does wear clothes differently than Dalton does.

      • Matt, Thanks for taking the time to explain exactly what my comment was about. Dalton’s wardrobe (especially in his second movie was an insult, to all the Bond’s which had gone before. *sigh* depressing that people STILL don’t grasp that simple fundamental!

    • I totally agree David. Also If Dalton wanted to wear an open necked shirt in a warm climate like Florida. I don’t know why the costume designer, who had worked on Miami Vice before LTK didn’t put Dalton in a beige or cream gabardine suit like she had dressed Don Johnson. Or a navy blazer with tan, beige, cream or even light grey trousers.

      • I thought it was merely that she wanted to dress him in pastels, such as pink or pale lemon suits, which he vetoed. That would have been very un-Bond-like. Beige or cream suits are still sober and classic enough, plus had some precedent from previous Bonds. The open collar shirts with city suits he ended up in looked like he forgot his tie!

      • I would say the costume designer of LTK was trying to put Bond in lighter blue suits, linen jackets of various pastel shades. I don’t think pastel pink or pale lemon was considered for Dalton. At least I hope not. The open neck dress shirt with a dark lounge suit is a hugely popular look at the moment, I don’t know where dressing down a lounge suit will go from here. As long as Bond still wears a tie with dark city suits in 10 years i’ll Be happy.

  3. Timeless look indeed. It is hard to conceive that only a year separates this great-looking dinner suit and the horror from Licence to Kill…

  4. Great Post Matt, Brosnan looked fantastic and very timeless in this dinner suit. If it weren’t for the flapped hip pockets it would be almost perfect. Pity he couldn’t have given Tim Dalton a sartorial lesson or two. The clean fit and the padded but not excessive shoulder padding are what really separates this suit to the mess that was License To Kill.

  5. As usual, Pierce nails the look. This about as good as 1988-era gets – and apparently because it ignores most of the fashion trends that, however much I thought they were cool in high school, dated badly. It is too bad for the series, for fans, and for Pierce that Bond didn’t happen for him in 1987. The Living Daylights would, with minor tweaks, have been a good vehicle for him, and Licence to Kill (which I like) would not have happened, as it was tailored specifically for Dalton. While he looks rather slight for Bond (let alone by late, 1980s’ action hero standards), I always thought he exuded far more charm and comfort as Remington Steele than he did as Bond.

    • I agree Christian. Brosnan is quite a naturally charming guy, but I think the direction of his four outings as 007 hampered this a bit. That or they did this deliberately to avoid unfair comparisons to Remington Steele, which if so is unfortunate.

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