Blofeld: The Mao Suit

9

Blofeld-Pleasence-Mao-Suit

Ernst Stavro Blofeld’s first full appearance came in You Only Live Twice with Donald Pleasence‘s cartoon-like portrayal. Besides the bald head, scarred face and white cat, Pleasence’s Blofeld is also known for his Mao suit. The Mao suit represents the West’s biggest enemy at the time, communism, and it labels Blofeld as the enemy even though SPECTRE is not a communist organization. Blofeld’s tan cavalry twill wool Mao suit is tailored much like a western suit with structured shoulders and a structured chest, and it’s closely fitted through the body. Unlike typical Mao suits, Blofeld’s jacket only has two pockets instead of four. The pockets are patch pockets with button-flaps, but the buttons are left undone. The jacket has five buttons on the front, a turn-down collar with a hook and eye to close it at the top and a single vent at the back. The trousers have a narrow leg and plain bottoms.

Blofeld-Pleasence-Mao-Suit-2

Underneath the jacket, Blofeld wears a white-on-white stripe shirt with double cuffs. The sleeves and cuffs are the only part of the shirt made for this outfit, and Frank Foster made the sleeves. The double cuff shirt underneath the Mao suit tells us that Blofeld has not entirely aligned himself with the East.

His shoes are medium brown with a flat plain toe and narrow elastic side gores. The fashionable shoes are a little taller than the typical shoe, but not quite tall enough to call short boots.

Blofeld-Pleasence-Mao-Suit-Brown-Shoes

One example of this suit’s jacket was sold at Bonhams in Knightsbridge on 17 November 2005 for £25,200. According to the listing, M. Berman Ltd. made the jacket for Donald Pleasence.

9 COMMENTS

  1. great post! It’s something I have never thought about, really, but it makes a whole lot of sense. Thanks for sharing

  2. Continuity wise it's interesting because despite that he was shown in silhouette in previous films, he clearly had hair and wore a regular lounge suit. Basically, he just seemed like an evil CEO.

  3. 'Samuel001' from MI6 forums:

    Could you follows this up with Blofeld's Mao Suit from 'Diamonds Are Forever'. The one Gray wears? I think that could make for a great comparison.

  4. Remember though in the novels Blofeld was remarkably skilled at drastically changing his appearance to suit his purposes.

  5. Putting Blofeld in the Mao Suit was a masterstroke of the producers. This look went on to grace several Bond villains with slight variations in neck styles and pocket configurations. This differentiated them visually from Bond.

    This differentiation was further emphasized in set design, where Bond's home and M's office featured very traditional architecture and furnishings, while the lairs of the arch-villians, while often sprinkled with antiques, were most often presented as ultra-modern and futuristic.

  6. Perhaps a bit late for a commentary, but as it happens I saw the film again some days ago (first time after years). Seems that his shoes are rather red brown ankle boots and not black slip-ons. The shirt is not plain white but a white-on-white striped shirt – very much like Connery’s worn with black tie in TB. An interesting pattern btw – plain white can be quite dull. But I think you won’t find it easily today (perhaps only bespoke).
    And if there weren’t the slubs I would never have guessed that the Mao suit was actually made of silk. I hope I do not appear too nit-picky belabouring such details, but as your blog closely examines all outfits related to the movies I thought it could be useful.

    Thanks.

    • Thanks for the corrections. I haven’t looked at this outfit since the Blu-ray came out, and those details were difficult to see on the DVD. They look just about black on the DVD, and there’s a noticeable difference on the Blu-ray.

    • I would love to see what that site said, now, because nearly two years on, it’s gone and I can’t read it. 🙁

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