Dr. Kananga: The Purple Suit



The flashier a man dresses the less he should be trusted. Roger Moore’s James Bond may have been dandier than Sean Connery’s Bond, but Moore’s style is quite restrained in comparison to Live and Let Die villain Dr. Kananga. Kananga’s dress is varied—from tasteful to tawdry—but Kanaga and Bond appear to share one thing in common: the same tailor. Kanaga wears two double-breasted suits that look very much like Cyril Castle creations, one tan and a one purple. For this comparison, let’s look at the purple suit.

The jacket has six buttons with two to button, and like Moore’s double-breasted jackets it has a narrow wrap (less overlap). The cut is the same, with a clean chest and softly-padded shoulders with roped sleeve heads. Kanaga’s jacket has the same slanted pockets, deep double vents and flared link cuffs—but with a more pronounced flare than Moore’s. The lapels are wider than Moore’s but are the same shape.


The trousers are the same cut as Moore’s trousers, with a slightly flared leg. The cloth is a printed pattern in purple and grey (which tones down the purple), and since it’s printed it’s very likely to be silk. Silk is a favourite material of tailor Cyril Castle.

The tie has a printed pattern of bronze diamonds on a dark purple ground, and the puffed pocket handkerchief matches the tie in colours but not pattern. Kananga wears a Frank Foster shirt in yellow, complementary in colour from the purple suit making it a natural choice. It has a long point collar and button cuffs. A few Bond villians, like Emilio Largo from Thunderball and Kamal Khan from Octopussy, have admirable wardrobes, but Kanaga does not. Though his suit is well-tailored, only a villain belongs in a purple suit.


      • James, I think I know the outfit which you are referring to. The Sinclair character wore a tonal stripe 3 piece suit (I know it appeared at the end of the first episode) as well as a number of subsequent episodes of the show. It’s shown here;
        The suit had an odd colour. I can’t believe it was purple, but it looked as a kind of grey with brownish undertone and overall in certain light it may have had a vaguely purple hue. He wore it with a tie, a navy paisley shape on a pale purple background. The brown rather than full grey of the material was confirmed by the fact that he wore it with brown shoes. In the last “Saint” season Moore also had a double breasted suit (classic narrow castle wrap at the front) in what appeared to be a similar colour (sans stripe), with an unusual lapel style and which he also wore with brown shoes.
        Perhaps Matt can shed more light on these?

      • David,

        I actually own a suit that is very similar in color to that one. Mine is definitely brown, however in certain lighting it can look like a deep navy or even charcoal and it pairs well with purple ties due to the hue of the fabric. It’s a very odd color indeed.

      • That’s a really nice color! It sounds like something that could easily pair with almost any other color, and can work in both the country and city.

  1. I don’t think it looks that bad. It’s not BRIGHT purple like Jack Nicholson’s Joker suit made by Tommy Nutter.

    • He wore very flashy colours indeed, but it suited his character perfectly. Plus they were very well-tailored, as opposed to the oversized and baggy suits Batman wore !
      I remember his double-breasted suits of the beginning -when he wasn’t the Joker yet-, often worn with a vest, that looked terrific.

      • Well said.
        By the way, is it just me or is every single suit in this film double-breasted? I know it was quite fashionable then, but I don’t remember seeing the least single single-breasted one.

      • DB’s were amongst the 1930’s revival styles that were “in” during the period. Poor tailoring aside, Gene Rayburn did a good job of being a poster child for these on U.S. TV – he wore quite a few of 1930’s-inspired DB’s on Match Game during the ’74-78 seasons.

        This aside, what better for a Bond villain to wear than a revival suit style often associated with gangsters? Just substitute the pinstripes for a print pattern. An inspired idea.


      • If I remember well, he wore only DB suits when he’s not the Joker yet. Then after he also wore a nice purple tailcoat with a green DB waistcoat. And in some scenes (at the museum for example) he also wore a more “artist” outfit, I think.

  2. It’s a pithy concluding sentence, but I think you’re selling the interplay between Kotto’s complexion and the suit’s colour far too short in order to deliver it. Besides, purple, or rather “menopausal mauve,” was the favoured colour of the rather stylish couturier and war hero Neil “Bunny” Roger



  3. About flashy colours, Solitaire’s top is quite nice… The suit itself is well-tailored, and I think the colour association (purple and yellow) works well and is quite interesting. It goes well with Solitaire’s esoteric and mysterious world.
    I also think black men can often pull off colour combinations that would seem too flashy for an Eurasian man. For example, golden jewels like cufflinks or watches often suit them better than for most of white men. I am just not mad of the loud pattern of the cloth, and of slanted pockets when it’s on a DB jacket. The other henchman’s suit in the first picture looks far more flashy to me -and no comments about the pockets…
    On another note, it’s a pity Brosnan didn’t wore any double-breasted (Brioni) suit. With his physique, and looking at the way he pulled off a DB overcoat, he certainly would have looked extremely elegant. I wonder if he has ever worn one in other movies or TV series.
    Matt, is the overlap approximately the equivalent of the roll of the lapel on a single-breasted jacket ?
    Also I am curious to know why you appreciate Kamal Khan’s wardrobe so much. I remember he’s got a beautiful navy 3-piece suit and dinner jacket indeed, but what else ? I always had the impression his Nehru jackets didn’t flatter him at all and made him look very frail, especially with his bodyguard wearing the same outfit.

    • I do quite like the colour and pattern of this jacket. I don’t know if I’d go so far to say *flashy* – it’s a little subdued despite how unusual it is. But as my friends who are black prove every day, there are lots of colours that look fantastic on them which would look merely okay on men of other skin colours.

      I seem to recall that Brosnan wore a lot of DB on Remington Steele, even a couple that had that odd 80s combination of being double breasted with notch lapels. It’s funny, although I’m in no way a slavish disciple to the “correct” style for Bond, DB is a huge no-no to me. It’s all about access to the shoulder holster, nothing to do with looks.

      • Interesting, it makes sense. But I think a DB jacket with a rather low button stance won’t cause such trouble. Moore wore DB dinner jackets and often with his PPK (in TSWLM especially) in. I also think the “practicity” argument is a little out of place. When we see Bond taking his gun from his holster, it’s always when he’s alone, not surrounded by ennemies in fact. He knows there’s some danger but we always see him alone on the screen when he takes off his Walther -correct me if I’m wrong. So I guess he would have enough time to take it off even if he’s wearing a DB jacket.
        Another problem could be the fact that running and jumping with a DB jacket unbutonned is less easy and less elegant than with a single breasted one -but does Bond have to unbuttton his jacket for every action scene ? Thanks God it’s not an obligation.


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