Jeffrey Deaver: Carte Blanche

26

Jeffrey Deaver took on the task of writing the last James Bond continuation novel, released in 2011. Deaver specifies an updated wardrobe for Bond, with a little more detail than Fleming wrote:

“By seven fifteen he was dressed: a navy-blue Canali suit, a white sea island shirt and a burgundy Grenadine tie, the latter items from Turnbull & Asser. He donned black shoes, slip-ons; he never wore laces, except for combat footwear or when tradecraft required him to send silent messages to a fellow agent via prearranged looping.” (Chapter 6)

Deaver takes inspiration from both Fleming’s Bond and Connery’s Bond in dressing the character. The navy suit, sea island shirt and slip-on shoes are straight from Fleming, whilst the grenadine—though in a different colour—is a more refined choice taken from Connery’s Bond. Though the film Bond’s long relationship with Turnbull & Asser has also made it into the novel, Deaver made his own choice for the brand of Bond’s suit: Canali. Canali’s suits are well-made and have some Italian flare, but they are still fairly conservative suits. Though their suits no longer have the traditional Italian details of jetted pockets and a ventless skirt, they still have some of the strongest shoulders of any suits today.

26 COMMENTS

  1. Sorry, I like Canali a lot and am a great admirer of some Italian men’s fashion, but simply do not see 007 ever making such a choice, even less so Brioni. I think he will still go bespoke and have a limited but very refined and classical wardrobe.

  2. I seem to remember somewhere in the novel, Deaver mention Bond dressing appropriately for the situation, and mentioning Savile Row suits.; I remember the above quote as well. Its been over a year since I read the books, so I don’t remember the quote exactly. It took it to mean Deaver’s Bond has a wide and versatile wardrobe and he uses it as costume/prop for his mission. The black Lacoste polo and jeans stick with, a does the black sport coat Bond dons in his role as a South African mercenary–the first in a positive way, the second, no so much. The book did turn me on to DH Bullard for custom holsters.

  3. I must admit I am not a fan of the Canali silhouette. And I like Brioni a lot; Canali, not so much. I don’t see Bond wearing it either.

    I am about to start Carte Blanche though and have heard it is good.

    • Carte Blanche isn’t bad, but the Canali suit choice is indicative of Deaver’s entire approach: he tried too hard to adhere to Fleming’s model, but with a “modern” flair. Often times, this led to akward choices that felt forced rather than true to the character. Bond’s alcohol preferences in the book are an even better illustration of this point.

  4. It almost seems like Canali is mentioned simply because the author picked a more popular name. Some vendors would greatly clash with Bond’s image as it’s been previously set (Armani, Cucinelli, Dolce…) so he picked a middle of the road and more popular suit maker. Canali isn’t a trend setter, and is one of the more well known brands.

    If I was going to pick a Italian suit maker for Bond I would have said Zegna.

    • I was thinking he chose Canali because it doesn’t stand out and it’s a quality suit for not a fortune. Zegna may be a better choice, though it’s more expensive too. I think Deaver was trying to be more realistic. I have a Canali blazer that’s very nice and not really so far off from the Brioni look.

      • Canali does put out nice garments, but the price of a Canali suit is still high and some basic Zegna’s would be either a little more (like $200) or around same price. I have several pairs of Canali pants and quite enjoy them, but ultimately I think he chose it because it’s a more established name that people will be familiar with.

      • I work with both brands, the price difference can be $500-700 if you are doing a specialty Trofeo fabric or 15 mil mil. If you are doing the simple stuff (which we would assume Bond would do, a all season solid Navy), difference literally would be $100, and average around maybe 200-300 more for basics and simple things.

  5. With so many British vendors on Saville Row (Richard James, Gieves & Hawkes etc), any thoughts on why Deaver didn’t choose one of those?

      • I would say it’s also possible that Deaver wears Canali suits and was transferring his own tastes to the character. After all, Fleming did that quite a bit.

      • Mark, I agree. He’s far more likely to go for Richard James or Kilgour, even, dare I say, off the peg. However, Savile Row is still very expensive, even off the peg. But he’s British, so he’s got to fly our flag and maybe MI6 would insist on this.

      • And Steve, expense is all kinda relative. Bond’s affluence is never really explained, especially considering his civil service pay… but his tastes reflect that of a playboy millionaire. I’d like to think that even in a fictional universe, MI6 don’t bankroll Canali suits!

      • Bond’s “affluence” is explained in the books, although at a pinch I wouldn’t be able to say in which novel or story. He receives the pay of a senior civil servant, and he seems to augment that with luck at cards. But he also has a private income from his inheritance which is equal to his salary. I remember someone stating in the mid/late 90s that it would be equal to $150K US at that time. We could easily estimate that at north of $200K (I know a couple of mid-level civil servants who make $85-100K) these days (assuming similar pay rates in England.

        Also, the Bond of the books didn’t have playboy tastes as such; he didn’t spend his money on a large quantity of things and kept luggage and suits until they were worse for wear. He did buy certain things of high quality and his income would certainly allow him to do that.

      • You’re possibly right Matt. Although I found the book well researched (I finished it on the same wine estate as the one mentioned in the book), so I find it hard to believe Deaver couldn’t rustle up a few English tailors from The Row. He could of even used Google Street view 🙂

    • Coming very late to this (almost 3 years) but thought it was worth expanding on TheLordFlasheart’s comments about the literary Bond’s finances. The key passage about Bond’s finances is in the first chapter of Moonraker.

      “He earned £1,500 a year, the salary of a Principal Officer in the Civil Service, and had a thousand a year free of tax of his own. When he was on a job he could spend as much as he liked, so for the other months of the year he could live very well on his £2,000 a year net”

      Adjusting for inflation, Bond’s salary in 2016 terms would be £38,000 with an additional (tax-free) private income of £25,200 (Adjusted for inflation, Bond’s salary doesn’t sound much but the salary range for a Senior Executive Officer of the Civil Service in 2016 is £35,946 – £42,968 so it’s about right)

      Bond’s net income after tax in 2016 adjusted for inflation would be £50,400, which is more than double the current national average but certainly not affluent. That said, Bond owns his own flat in Chelsea and a 23 year old Bentley. Bond’s flat would today cost in the region of £1.5m – even adjusting for inflation, it would have been far cheaper in 1954.

      Bond’s finances receive a significant boost only a few chapters later when he wins £15,000 from Sir Hugo Drax in a high stakes bridge game. That’s £380,000 adjusted for inflation. He plans to buy a new Bentley and Cartier diamond clips for his three mistresses.

  6. I like a lot the general idea of the outfit -navy suit, white shirt, burgundy tie. It’s a very classic and sober outfit for the evening. I wonder if Bond has ever worn such ensemble, Craig aside. However, slip-ons for the evening… They may be black, but I would even prefer dark brown monk shoes. Some people could see it as more “shocking”, but whatever.
    Good idea to keep T&A. I think there’s really a more-than-commercial link between Bond and the brand now, they should have kept T&A for the Craig era.
    Tom Ford shirts at $500 or more are really a provocation, even if they look nice.
    However, I too don’t understand the presence of Canali. Maybe it’s because it’s quite known indeed, but I find their suits having no distinctive style in particular. Quite slim speaking of lapels and cuts, but it’s the norm nowadays.
    I am curious about their quality. I had the impression every suit or jacket from this brand wasn’t fully canvassed -and it’s not the case of suits made by Savile Row tailors, or even brands like Brioni-, but I could certainly be wrong.

    Matt, I would like very much to be enlightened about two things :

    -I thought Brioni had one of the strongest shoulders available in ready-to-wear ? Are really Canali’s as built up ?
    -I wonder why ventless back and straight jetted pockets are typical Italian features. Perhaps they are now, but they were the norm in the USA and in Europe in the 30’s and 40’s, and started to decline slowly only around the mid-60’s I guess. Besides, although a flared skirt and hacking pockets are certainly typically British, I am having a hard time finding how they could be inappropriate for Bond. I think these two features are the most discreet ones, of all the other pocket and vent options available – so something the litterary Bond would certainly wear.

    Thank you in advance.

  7. Personally, I thought Deaver interpreted James Bond terribly. He got it all wrong. It was as though he was trying to reinvent Bond his way and do away with the formula that has been in place since the Casino Royale novel.

    Bond would never use iPhone, he would never get excitement from driving a Subaru, and he would certainly never wear Canali. I could see JB wearing Ermenegildo Zegna Couture, if he had to wear Italian. Brioni and definitely Kiton are out of his tax bracket. But to keep it English, he should wear Anderson & Sheppard, T&A, or better still, Anthony Sinclair.

    It does not always have to be about the most well-known clothier.

    • James is correct in every regard.
      If 007 was to go RTW or MTA it would have to be Zegna Couture but in reality it would be A&S bespoke every time.
      Deaver’s taste in clothes and accessories (Oakley sunglasses for heaven’s sake) were as bad as his thoroughly awful Bond novel.

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