After drying off at the spa in San Francisco’s Japantown in A View to a Kill, James Bond dons a Japanese-esque robe. It is the last in a long line of loungewear pieces in character for Roger Moore, the bathrobe Bond. To educate myself about this garment, I turned to my friend Eisuke Ochiai (@inspiredbybond on Instagram) to find out what it is. He started by stating, ‘it’s highly unorthodox’. Unlike Sean Connery’s authentic Japanese garments in You Only Live Twice, Ochiai said, ‘Moore’s would be a California Dragon roll compared to Connery’s sushi.’
This robe is similar to a yukata, which is an item Bond wears in You Only Live Twice, but Ochiai says that the lining makes this something else because a yukata is typically a one-piece garment. Bond’s garment, instead, borrows from the kimono, which are made in the ‘awase’ style, which means it has a lining. This contrasts with the usual ‘hitoe’ style, which is what Connery wears.
Moore’s robe is black silk with a red silk lining, and it has a shawl collar and a belt tied around the waist. There is an embroidered motif of red lightning bolts with white clouds on the right side of the chest and a gold dragon on the left side of the chest.
The embroidery is what kimonos may have, according to Ochiai, and he believes that it takes inspiration from the Yokosuka jacket, with the dragon design. Such jackets are known as ‘sukajan’, or souvenir jackets, which are vintage-American-style baseball jackets with Japanese embroidery. They originated as a souvenir for American soldiers stationed in Japan during World War II.
This robe may not be authentically Japanese, but James Bond is in America and not in Japan in A View to a Kill. The robe belongs to the spa, and Ochiai thinks that the spa is ‘run by an American who can’t tell karate and judo apart and would say, “judo chop”, despite his suspiciously long years in Japan.’ San Francisco is home to a large number of Japanese Americans, who had established their home there generations before A View to a Kill, so we cannot hold them to keep to accurate Japanese customs.
I do not know where Moore’s robe originated, but if I had to guess, it was likely sourced by costume designer Emma Porteous from a shop in San Francisco, or maybe from a shop in London because the scenes at the spa were shot on a set in England. Ochiai said that the scene ‘looks a bit like Americanized Japan, so the world of Karate Kid.’ But again, this takes place in America, so it looks the part.