Bond Wardrobe Review 18: Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)

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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
Tailoring: Brioni
Shirts and ties: Turnbull & Asser
Footwear: Church’s

Overview

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.

Formal Wear

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.

Other Characters

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.

Verdict

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.

Rating: 7/10

Do you agree or disagree with my assessment? Leave your comments below.

36 COMMENTS

  1. The navy three-piece, with bonus coat, is among my favourite outfits of the franchise. But that blue shirt (especially as it billows in that very strategically chosen photo!) does look pretty awful. Works for the story, but we do hold our Bond to a higher standard and it falls short.

  2. I really enjoy the tailoring in the first half of the movie, but hard to argue with the 7/10 rating due to how things dip in the second half.

    Spottiswoode’s brief to Lindy Hemming was to make things a bit more contemporary, which she said was one of the reasons she dropped the pocket square. This is of course, kind of funny since other aspects of his wardrobe in this movie couldn’t be more traditional, as Matt nicely lays out.

    I really like the cufflinks in this movie too, and they match the Art Deco motif of the ties.

  3. Completely agree with your consensus. Would give 8 but one mark off for the mismatch in formality when Stamper wears the suit jacket with a t shirt.

  4. Oh and also the blue shirt in Vietnam, which would’ve been better if it wasn’t so baggy and would’ve been better with chinos.

  5. I rather like this film and its wardrobe (except the blue casual shirt outfit) but find it perhaps a bit far-fetched to ask us to believe that the GPS decoder that Bond stole from Gupta’s office would fit seamlessly in Brosnan’s inner breast pocket, without even a wrinkle on his suit jacket…

    • Movie magic at its finest. I guess it fit in there the same way Roger Moore fit a Faberge egg in the hip pocket of a dinner jacket.

  6. I had always assumed that very cool leather jacket -probably Bond’s most appropriate leather jacket- was some dark brown. I wished they had switched the navy Birdseye for the newspaper factory scene because I was never a fan of the wide geometric patterned tie -sorry, Art Déco haha- which is the loudest tie Brosnan ever wore. The second half of the movie is indeed very disappointing regarding clothing. Brosnan’s jungle gear in Goldeneye looked more interesting than that all black thing. The less said about Carver’s clothing (and acting) the better… most of Brosnan’s Bond era villains didn’t have any style.

    • While that tie is not to my taste, in my opinion the ties in Goldeneye are much louder at least in terms of the size and scale of the pattern. I do love the copper and blue tie from earlier in the London and Hamburg scenes.

  7. Matt, what’s the place of the women in your rating system ? I noticed you mentioned Paris’ dress here, but not a word about the women’s outfits in Goldeneye -Famke Janssen had some terrific femme fatale looks !

    • Only Bond’s looks factor into the final rating for each film. If I were to consider all of the costumes in my ratings, I don’t think it would change my ratings much because Bond’s look holds far more importance than any other part of the wardrobe. If I think Bond’s look gets it right, it’s a win for the wardrobe. If Bond’s wardrobe has something amiss, nobody else can make up for that. I mention the other characters here merely as a matter of interest.

  8. I love the dinner jacket waistcoat. Pure class.

    What I would love is a full on review of his diving outfit, just because I wanted to look like this when I was into SCUBA diving!

    • I’m an avid scuba diver but I’d still say it’s very hard to evaluate his kit in this film. You don’t really get a good look. Remember he starts out suited up for the HALO jump with O2 tanks for the altitude and his flippers strapped to his legs. Once he hits the water under cover of the bubble splash his flippers quickly fall into place on his feet and his O2 tank morphs into a scuba rig. It’s been a while since I watched TND so I don’t recall the specific details but I do remember a deft bit of artistic license employed by the production team as his gear quickly transforms to meet the needs of the mission.

      Also – in partial mitigation of the borrowed baggy blue shirt – it’s probably deliberately a generous fit to hide the harness he was likely wearing when they filmed the jump from Carver’s skyscraper. Look at the picture above to see the weird lumps around Michelle’s chest too.

      • What I can identify is Gul gloves, a Technisub mask, Poseidon Triton Millennium regulator and a Scubapro BCD (model unknown) – the latter modified to look like a parachuting harness.

        The wetsuit elludes me still…

  9. I’ve always admired Carver’s monotone black turtleneck and black Kenzo Nehru suit look, as well as his sensible wire-framed glasses and neatly trimmed grey hair that complete his simple and severe but not unrefined look quite creditably.

    • Agreed. It’s a nice nod to Blofeld’s Nehru jackets and Mao suits (which is appropriate given that Carver’s plan is very similar to Blofeld’s in “You Only Live Twice”). Plus, the close-cropped gray hair, wire-rimmed glasses, and black outfit kind of make him look like Steve Jobs, although that might have been unintentional.

  10. I hear you on the billowy blue shirt and other ill-fitting ensembles in the film’s second half. However, that grey flannel suit with the Turnbull & Asser necktie has become iconic, and not without justification. I’d agree the necktie looks loud when viewed at close range. From further away, however–as in your seventh still image above–it presents simply as a conservative dark necktie with small light blue spots. Its bronze-like warmth, moreover, perfectly complements the charcoal suit fabric and light blue shirt. No wonder it’s still sold to this day. Between that and the beautiful tailoring of the other suits you describe, I’d give at least 8/10–almost tempted to go to 9.

  11. Let’s face it, obliging Pierce Brosnan’s 007 to put on such a deplorably unstylish outfit after being captured probably counts as the cruellest act of torture Bond ensures between ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE and DIE ANOTHER DAY …

      • Yes, that was a particularly obscene scene but it’s just outside of ED’s tortured timeframe, right after DIE ANOTHER DAY.

    • Dear me, that ‘ensures’ should have been ‘endured’.

      Also, thank you Sinclair (and shame on you, le Chiffre, for such an act of self-promotion!). (-;

  12. Would it be possible to shed some light on Julian Fellowes very nice shirt in TND? It’s a striped shirt with white and pink stripes enhanced by a black hairline detailing within it.

  13. I would give these outfits maybe a 7 or 8. I wish there was more variety with suits, but I love the charcoal flannel suit. Wish the suit had a heavier cloth but overall it looks amazing.

  14. Matt, any idea why Brosnan is the first (and only) Bond to have worn Birdseye suits ? I would have expected Connery and Moore to have worn maybe at least one. Isn’t it a typical British suiting, like herringbone or flannel ?

    • I don’t know why, because it is indeed a classic British suiting. Orlebar Brown suggested that Moore wore blue birdseye in Octopussy with the birdseye pattern in their Octopussy collection, but a close examination of his navy suit on screen proves it to be a flannel.

    • The tailored outfits provided a feeling of grandeur. The leather coat made the action feel more intense because Bond looked more intense. The blue and black outfits in the second half of the film appropriately fit the story, but they cheapened the feel of the film. If Bond doesn’t look his best, the atmosphere suffers because it lacks the proper Bond feel.

      • If 007 doesn’t make an action scene feel like an especially homicidal GQ cover shoot, he just isn’t Bond, James Bond!

  15. I would agree with you 7/10 rating, but just barely. The persistent use of the oversized look was an unfortunate remnant of the Timothy Dalton experiment perhaps.

  16. Out of curiosity, and since I know Brosnan’s tactical clothes get a lot of criticism, what do you think would’ve been a more stylish/Bondian alternative for the climax?

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