Believe me, Mr Bond, I could tailor you from Italy e still create the proper effect.
James Bond: Pierce Brosnan
Director: Roger Spottiswoode
Costume designer: Lindy Hemming
Shirts and ties: Turnbull & Asser
For Pierce Brosnan’s second turn at James Bond in Tomorrow Never Dies, costume designer Lindy Hemming and suitmaker Brioni returned to continue what they started in GoldenEye. Tomorrow Never Dies has a fairly small wardrobe, with almost every outfit having a significant moment in the film.
The most significant change from GoldenEye to Tomorrow Never Dies was the return of shirtmaker Turnbull & Asser, who made Sean Connery’s shirts and ties for most of his Bond films. Though Bond wore the odd item from them between the Connery films and Tomorrow Never Dies, it was a brilliant decision from Hemming to bring them back to the Bond series. They made the shirts and the ties for Tomorrow Never Dies.
Hemming once again looked to the 1930s for Bond’s evening wear, but this time she went even deeper into historical inspiration. The suit is in midnight blue wool barathea, and the dinner jacket has one button on the front and wide peaked lapels with grosgrain facings. It doesn’t get more 1930s than this.
The dinner suit’s waistcoat is a five-button double-breasted model with the buttons in a V-formation. This type of waistcoat was more typically found in day wear, but Hemming lowered the opening to turn the style into one more appropriate for evening wear. It also has grosgrain-faced shawl lapels. I love seeing the unusual waistcoat on Bond, though it might be better suited to a villain.
To match the older, more formal style of the dinner suit, the shirt has a marcella semi-spread collar, double cuffs and front bib with mother-of-pearl stud-like buttons.
The outfit is fussier than Bond would usually wear, but I find the outfit fascinating. On many people It would look like costume because it could easily be straight out of the 1930s, but Brosnan has the regal presence to pull it off. It also fits in at the fancy party Bond attends. Though the look is something new for Bond, he is a master of black tie and I appreciate that he presents a different way to wear it.
Lounge Suits and Jackets
Brosnan only wears two suits in Tomorrow Never Dies, but both are successful. Like in GoldenEye, the cut is very full but neat. The padded shoulders are flattering to Brosnan’s build. Brosnan himself has bulked up from his previous film, so the full fit doesn’t overwhelm him quite as much. Both suits have the button-three front that defines modern Bond style, and they have slanted pockets with a ticket pocket and double vents in an attempt to bring a hint of Britishness. The belted trousers with reverse pleats are not necessarily un-British, but they contribute to the modern Italian look.
The first suit repeats the successful navy birdseye from GoldenEye, but this time it’s a three-piece suit. It’s perfect for London as well as his arrival in Hamburg. In repeating the navy birdseye cloth, it establishes the suit as Brosnan’s Bond’s signature suit. Hemming knew that navy was Bond’s colour. It’s sad that there are few good shots of this whole suit on Bond.
This outfit reintroduces Turnbull & Asser to the Bond films. The shirts has their ‘Prince of Wales’ semi-spread, which is flattering and balanced on Brosnan. Double cuffs continue the new standard for Bond’s formal shirts. The shirt is cream royal oxford, which repeats the same shirt colour Brosnan paired with his navy suit in GoldenEye.
The tie is also from Turnbull & Asser, and it’s more subtle than any of the ties in GoldenEye. It’s in a small pattern of bronze with dark blue squares, once again reflecting the blue and brown combinations worn in GoldenEye. The simplicity of this pattern is more in line with the traditional Bond look.
The bronze in the tie also pulls together the fawn-coloured cashmere double-breasted overcoat that Brosnan wears over the suit in Hamburg. This is another item that recalls the 1930s. Its grandeur may be more than typically associated with Bond, but it stands out as one of Bond’s most elegant overcoats alongside the Live and Let Die chesterfield. It suits Bond’s cover as a banker as well.
The second suit revives a Bond classic: the dark grey flannel. This is sadly the last appearance of the flannel suit to date in the series, but it’s used well here. My only complaint is that it’s too lightweight of a flannel. Lightweight suits were seen as the pinnacle of luxury at the time, so that’s why Bond is wearing a lightweight flannel even though a heavier one would look neater and wear slightly warmer in this setting. Brosnan looks classic Bond in a light blue royal oxford shirt. The Turnbull & Asser tie is one of Bond’s boldest patterns to date, but the pattern of squares in navy, bronze and light blue is a beautiful one that coordinates with the light blue of the shirt and cleverly continues the blue and brown theme that started in GoldenEye.
Black oxford brogues from Church’s return. Brogues were popular at the time and became an established look for Brosnan’s Bond, but they’re quite the opposite of what one would expect from Fleming’s Bond.
There is a consistency in the tailored looks with GoldenEye that provides Brosnan was a strong sartorial identity. This would continue through all of Brosnan’s Bond films to create a sartorial identity that would rival Connery’s.
In addition to the suits, Brosnan also wears a Royal Navy commander’s dress uniform, Bond’s first since The Spy Who Loved Me 20 years prior. It’s a brief but welcome return to remind us of Bond’s roots. Brosnan looks superb it it, and it strongly connects him with the role in a way that he shares only with two other Bond actors.
Casual and Mission Attire
Brosnan’s brown leather coat at the start of the film is one of only a few outfits the series that can truly be described as ‘bad ass’. It’s dramatic in a way that few of Bond outfits are. The look is successful because it portrays a tough look for Bond that is wearable beyond the circumstances of this scene. The light brown shade of the leather is beautiful, and the colour hints at the overcoat Bond wears later. He stylishly layers it with a black roll neck and a half-zip jumper for extra warmth. Though the outfit is a little different from anything bond wore before, I think it is an appropriate evolution.
After Bond wears a black wet suit, helmet and parachute pack for a HALO jump—no criticism of this look—he is captured. His captors dress him in an unfortunate oversized blue shirt and hideous black jogging trouser. The shirt is ready-to-wear from Angelo Litrico, not a brand one would associate with Bond. Though it is realistic that this outfit wouldn’t fit well given the circumstances, a found outfit in a Bond film doesn’t mean it has to fit poorly. However, I suspect that because oversized fits were trendy in the late 1990s, this fit would have been the goal regardless of Bond’s circumstances. The trainers are suitable for the action, but again they don’t look Bondian.
For an outfit that is featured for a significant portion of the film’s action, I would have liked to see Bond dressed in a neater fit. A neat look is part of the character. At least the outfit’s colours are appropriate for Bond.
The film’s final all-black tactical outfit features a similar oversized fit. Bond didn’t bring this outfit from home either, so again we wouldn’t realistically expect Bond to be perfectly fitted here. Because a second casual shirt in the film has a very full fit, it makes me think that in both instances the fit was chosen for fashion rather than for plot. This outfit resembles Bond’s tougher looks in GoldenEye, and the vest again makes Bond look like a soldier. It works for the story, but I don’t think this outfit is stylish enough or memorable enough for Bond.
The best in Bond’s wardrobe shines far above anyone else’s. Stamper’s grey suit has character and gives the character a beautifully dramatic look. Paris Carver’s gown stands out as the only garment that matches the elegance of Bond’s looks.
Well Done, James
Hemming’s choice to reunite Bond with Turnbull & Asser is in sync with the many ways Tomorrow Never Dies returns Bond to tradition after GoldenEye. The shirts aren’t vastly different from the previous film’s Sulka shirts, but the small differences greatly enhance Brosnan’s appearance here. The ties also look more refined than before, even if one of them is still quite bold. The colours now are more sophisticated and help us focus our eyes on Bond rather than on the ties.
Not Perfected Yet
Bond’s clothes in the second half of the film are at best lacklustre. The blue shirt has too much screen time for a found outfit that is too sloppy for Bond, and the trousers he wears it with are not appropriate for the character. The black tactical outfit is likewise not neat enough for Bond. These two outfits dominate too much of the film’s key set pieces.
I consider Tomorrow Never Dies‘ wardrobe to be at a similar level to GoldenEye‘s because the good things got better while the bad things got worse. The tailored looks are fewer but stronger. Though the fit of the suits is similar to the fit in GoldenEye, I find that Brosnan looks better in this film. The vintage-inspired overcoat and dinner suit are masterpieces that recall the golden age of cinema. The leather jacket is a beautifully bold look for Bond. The return of the naval uniform is brilliant. These outfits further define Brosnan’s unique look as Bond while providing him with the presence he needs to be a memorable and effective Bond.
On the other hand, the two key looks that Brosnan wears in the second half of the film are far weaker. The blue shirt is one of the worst looks of the series. The tactical clothes for the finale are too soldier-like for Bond. These two outfits are realistic for the moments in the film, but they go against character. Because these casual looks have so much screen time, they lower my appraisal of the wardrobe more than two outfits normally would. With some looks better and some looks worse than in GoldenEye, my rating ends up being the same.
Do you agree or disagree with my assessment? Leave your comments below.