The Day of the Dead Costume in Spectre

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Happy Halloween to those who celebrate! Tomorrow starts the Dia de los Muertos—or Day of the Dead—festival in Mexico, approximately one year after it was featured in Spectre. On Saturday, Mexico City held its first Day of the Dead parade inspired by the events the opened Spectre. For Spectre‘s Day of the Dead festival, James Bond channels the Live and Let Die henchman Baron Samedi in a skeleton-themed costume to blend in amongst the festivities in Mexico City.

Costume designer Jany Temime based this costume’s coat off of a vintage piece, as she told Christies:

He [Daniel Craig] had to look like James Bond in a crowd. We fitted different coats on him before I found an early twentieth century coat that we remade before painting on the skeleton. I then found a top hat and we had a mask specially made because it had to be articulated. You had to see his eyes in close up — Daniel’s eyes are very recognisable.

The black coat is lightweight in cloth and construction but is cut like an Chesterfield overcoat. It is mid-calf length with a flared skirt. The coat has a fly front with hidden buttons, a welt breast pocket, slanted jetted pockets on the hips and a single vent in skirt that starts below the buttocks. The white skeleton is hand-painted on the front, back and sleeves.

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The fit is better than the Tom Ford suit coats in the film, but it’s not without problems. The collar doesn’t always hug the neck and the shoulders are too narrow. A lack of darts in the front mean that this coat has a little distortion in the front because the tailor tried to give it a little more shape than the coat’s cut allows. It overall has a straighter cut than Daniel Craig’s suit jackets in Spectre have, but the flare of the skirt gives it the shape it lacks in the torso. In some shots, Daniel Craig’s abdomen appears to stick out more than his chest does, which isn’t a flattering look. But the coat’s dark colour and constant movement of both Craig and the camera disguise this, so it’s only a problem if one pauses the film at certain points.

Under the coat, Bond wears a black sateen shirt that has a short semi-spread collar with quarter-inch stitching, button cuffs, a plain front and silvery buttons. The black satin silk tie has white, hand-painted bones to complete the jacket’s skeleton. The tie is tied in a four-in-hand knot. It must have been tied before being painted and then slipped onto Daniel Craig’s neck. The length of the tie doesn’t matter because the ends are hidden under the coat. The shirt and tie do not appear to be up to Bond’s usual quality standards, but this is only for a costume. However, the hand-painted work is excellent.

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The black top hat is the “Victorian” model from Jaxon Hats in US size 7 5/8. The hat not only has to fit over Daniel Craig’s head but also the mask. It is 100% wool with a 6-inch tapered crown and a 2-inch curled bound brim. It has a black grosgrain ribbon at the base of the crown, a white satin lining and a faux leather sweatband. The hat is costume quality and can’t compare to something from Lock Hatters. He carries a skull-topped cane with the outfit.

In a few second as the camera turns away from Bond and turns back to him, Bond has removed this coat, shirt and tie to reveal a blue Prince of Wales check suit. The black coat, black shirt and black tie are supposed to fit over Bond’s blue suit, and it is difficult to tell if he is indeed wearing the suit underneath. The black’s coat’s shoulders and sleeves sit like there could be a suit jacket underneath, and the black shirt collar sits higher than the white shirt collar underneath does.

One of three of these Day of the Dead costumes made was auctioned at Christies on King Street in London on 18 February 2016 with a realised price of £98,500. The auction includes the entire costume, including the skull mask, along with black leather gloves that weren’t worn with this outfit.

Can you spot Bond?
Can you spot Bond?

Completing Bond’s outfit are the blue Prince of Wales check suit trousers, black socks and black derby shoes that he wears under the costume, since the costume has no unique bottom half. The suit trousers have a wide extended waistband, slide-buckle side-adjusters, side seams curved forward at the top with on-seam pockets, narrow straight legs and turn-ups. They have a low rise and are hemmed with no break, which means they are very short and cover little of the shoes.

The shoes are the Crockett & Jones Norwich model. They are black calf five-eyelet, cap-toe derby shoes with Dainite studded rubber soles. The socks are a rather boring and unstylish black. Dark blue would have been a better choice, since it would extend the line of the too-short trouser legs.

15 COMMENTS

  1. Even though the fit of the costume is a little off here or there it will go down as iconic. The opening sequence is one of the most memorable in recent memory and it was much more Bondian than the opening of Skyfall in my opinion. Bond is surrounded by death all the time and he is the messenger of death to his enemies. So the costume is fitting as he is kind of a suave grim reaper in basic terms.

  2. What a perfect disguise for Mr. Bond. You really can tell it is him amidst all the others. Seeing this in the trailers made me really excited for Spectre before it came out. The whole opening scene was very true to the character.

  3. I must say I never considered that he might actually be wearing the PoW suit under this coat, I just assumed it was supposed to be down to suspension of belief

  4. I agree this was an interesting opening scene and cleverly done (it appears to be one take from the cold open right up to the attempted assassination) but once again I get irritated when ‘they’ don’t play fair with the audience. Are we supposed to believe that he can doff the entire costume (including shirt and sleeve buttons, tie, etc) in the brief moment that the camera turns to the girl? These are the details that make me roll my eyes, as so much has gone into the creation of the scene then they commit a gaffe like that.

    • I think it’s one of those things that just needs to be chalked-up to “because he’s James Bond.”

      I’m not sure if it was the way he was standing, his clothes, or that he has a beautiful woman on his arm, but from the very first wide shot I could tell right away which person in the crowd was James Bond.

    • Really, you didn’t like that? I found it to be the funniest moment in the film. It’s quite obviously impossible to get changed that quickly, and of course the film makers wouldn’t for a moment have thought people would believe he did. The absurdity of it is what makes the joke, and letting the audience know in the first take of the film that this one isn’t taking itself too seriously.

      If you don’t like the joke that’s fine, but give the makers a bit of credit; don’t assume they thought people would find it possible.

    • Connery was quoted once as saying he approached Bond through the comedy door (or something). Which is at odds with the way he portrayed Bond in Dr No as a cold assassin: “… that’s a Smith and Wesson – and you’ve had your six!” and at odds with the way I picture him. I like the more serious direction that the series has taken since Craig took on the role so these attempts at comedy, if that’s indeed what they are, grate on me. It put me in mind of Leslie Nielson in ‘The Naked Gun’ removing his entire outfit in one move. A perfect visual joke for a spoof film, completely out of place in what I thought was supposed to be a relatively serious adult spy action flick.

    • Sure, it’s a plausibility goof, but arguably a tip of the hat to the pre-title sequence of Goldfinger. After setting the bombs in the refinery, Bond hops down to the alley, unzips his scuba drysuit, and voila, there’s a complete, unrumpled tux underneath. He slides the drysuit down from his jacket, then… With a grin, Bond puts a carnation in his lapel. Turns, and exits stage right. But he never steps out of the dry suit. I imagine him shuffling along the alleyway with the drysuit bunched up around his calves and ankles. Yes, kind of a goof, but on film the gag worked.

  5. Connery’s Bond evolved from the cold assassin of Dr. N0 to the stoic, sardonic characterization of GF and Thunderball, to the outright comedy of DAF, which was basically a Roger Moore movie without Roger Moore. I, for one, could use a little more comedy. Craig’s gravitas wears thin after a while.

  6. I agree with your summary but not your conclusion. Although I’ve never really taken to afraid as Bond I like the direction the series has taken since he was cast. The less serious the film the less I was interested, the absolute nadir being Moore doing Tarzan yells in Octopussy or hearing the Beach Boys’ ‘California Girls’ when he was snow boarding. My reference point is the books which contain little to no humour. I’m not interested in seeing comedy in a Bond film. There’s a wide enough niche to accommodate the series as adult spy action thrillers along with the Bournes, Jack Ryan etc. Those films don’t appear to need much comedy in them either. Horses for courses!

  7. There is no arguing with “horses for courses”, of course, but I would point out that, in the grand scheme of things, Jason Bourne and jack Ryan will prove to be mere blips on the cultural landscape – just two more tough guys. Bond, on the other hand, is still going strong due to a unique combination of action, style, and, yes, humor.

  8. Yes what a movie Spectre… I had my Tailor make me a copy of DANIEL Craig’s same The Day of the Dead Costume just waiting for the cane, oh also myself and my girlfriend ( who also has the copy of the dress came from Russia ) we are going to Vegas for Halloween and see how we get in with the hundred of beautiful costumes and dance the night at MGM

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