Sir James Bond: Edwardian Tweed

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The 1967 Casino Royale spoof features many James Bonds, though the original Bond (know knighted) is played by David Niven. Niven wears a sports suit tailored by Benson, Perry & Whitley, of 9 Cork Street, London, who was also Ian Fleming’s tailor. The overall style has an Edwardian button four front, which came back into high fashion for a time during the 1960s. Some people in the fashion industry, such as Hardy Amies, thought the old style came back to stay, and in turn would inspire a button five suit to become popular. But suits ultimately went in the opposite direction, with the button two model prevailing. For a time in the 1960s button one suits were also popular, as evidenced by other spies such as John Steed and Maxwell Smart (who also wore button four suits).

David Niven’s suit is made from an olive and brown Glen Urquhart check tweed with a red overcheck and trimmed with light brown leather elbow patches and shoulder patches for shooting. Apart from the button four front (of which Niven buttons the top 3), this suit also has the Edwardian touch of gauntlet (turnback) cuffs, which fasten with 2 buttons. Other details include beige horn buttons and hacking pockets with a ticket pocket. What brings the suit coat out of the Edwardian era into the 1960s is the fashionably shorter length.

Under the suit Niven wears a cream shirt with double cuffs and a colourful silk neckerchief. Niven’s braces are white with a bird print and have white braided ends. Removing his braces causes his trousers to drop, revealing his white boxer shorts. Outside the suit he wears a navy cape with a green collar and a forest green alpine hat with a rope band and feather.

The coat from this suit, though without the shoulder patches, was sold at Bonhams on 6 March 2007 for £240.

6 COMMENTS

    • Leonard Whitley was my grandfather. He was always dressed impeccably when I was a child. In fact I have a transcript of the obituary my grandfather read out for Ian Fleming on the BBC World Service. It was great to read this page.

      • Dear Richard Hector-Jones,
        We have a number of negatives of Leonard Whitley at the National Portrait Gallery, London which I am currently cataloguing. I am trying to find biographical information for Whitley in order to do so – I wonder if you can help? I am sure you would also be interested in seeing the images?
        Regards,
        Constantia

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