Lindy Hemming: Blue and Brown for Brosnan

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How much should a man match his clothing for the day? Sean Connery’s James Bond wardrobe follows a simple system: navy ties with navy suits, navy or black ties with grey suits, and brown ties with brown suits. Shirts are white, light blue and cream. And the suitings are simple, in blue or grey with the occasional brown. The literary Bond has an even simpler system of dressing, which always matched a black knitted tie with a navy suit.

Blue-Brown/Charcoal Suit

Lindy Hemming, the costume designer on all four of Pierce Brosnan’s Bond films, developed a system for dressing Brosnan, one with very carefully planned outfits that coordinate in both obvious and subtle ways. Hemming often used limited colour palates but combined the colours in unique ways. She incorporated the not-so-common combination of blue and brown into many of the outfits, and we saw that done in a few different ways.

In one method she matches a charcoal suit with a navy and brown tie. We first saw that in Tomorrow Never Dies with the two-piece suit in Hamburg (above left). The diamond-pattern tie also picks up the light blue in Brosnan’s shirt. In the opening scene of The World is Not Enough, we see the blue and brown tie come back in a chevron pattern with the charcoal suit (above right). That suit appears to be solid charcoal but it actually has blue and brown threads in it, which is the reasoning for the tie’s colour. Logically, the suit in Tomorrow Never Dies would also have blue and brown threads.

Blue-Brown/Light Suit

The chevron tie from the opening scene of The World is Not Enough returns later in the film with grey pick-and-pick suit. And with this suit later in the film, Brosnan wears a blue tie with light brown ticks (above left). The blue and brown in the ties blend together to form a neutral tie, which complements the completely neutral grey suit. A white shirt helps to neutralise the outfit’s colours, since if he wore a blue or cream shirt, one of the colours in each tie would have been more noticeable.

Brosnan wears a blue and sand Prince of Wales check suit (above right) for his visit to the office in GoldenEye. The blue and sand colours balance each other and the suit looks almost grey. Here the tie is blue and light brown, to emphasize the two dominant colours in the suit. Though the tie is more blue, though the ivory shirt balances that out with more warmth. And the blue pocket handkerchief coordinates with both the suit and tie. This even combination of blue and brown throughout the outfit provides a neutral look.

Blue-Brown/Navy Birdseye Suit

One suit we see in all four of Brosnan’s is the semi-solid (usually Birdseye) navy suit, which tones the navy down with a white. Hemming probably finds that Brosnan looks better in a muted navy rather than a rich navy (which looks great on someone like Roger Moore), and she accessorises those suit in two different manners. In GoldenEye (above left) and Tomorrow Never Dies (above middle), those suits are worn with ivory shirts. In GoldenEye the tie is navy, gold and cream, whilst the tie in Tomorrow Never Dies is a similar combination of navy and bronze. And there he goes a step further by matching the bronze in his tie with a light brown overcoat. In Die Another Day (above right), Brosnan wears a tie of navy and gold squares with his navy birdseye suit in a brief plane scene. So again, we see that combination of blue and brown tones.

Before Brosnan, James Bond had never matched his clothes so carefully. But like Connery’s Bond wardrobe, we see consistency throughout Brosnan’s Bond films. As a graphic designer I have a great appreciation for the Lindy Hemming’s colour matching, though it makes Bond look like he’s trying too hard. Should James Bond—or any man—match his clothes so carefully?

12 COMMENTS

  1. Although I didn’t find Brosnan’s wardrobe very Bond-like, at least it was consistent. I’ll credit Lindy Hemming with that.

    The Daniel Craig movies lack any consistency at all in comparison. It’s a shame that in the pursuit of profit (a.k.a. whatever clothing designer will give you free clothes) and changing costume designers every movie, a trademark style has still yet to be set for Daniel Craig’s Bond… three movies in. That’s unprecedented.

  2. A fascinating explanation and it explains why I have always thought Brosnan the most elegant Bond. Subconsciously I must be picking up the coordination

  3. Of course all men should match clothes well and carefully, its a shame that 95% of men haven’t got sense of clothes and color matching, not even in a simplistic, minimalistic (yet flawless) way as Connery’s wardrobe, its a shame also that some brands like boss or zegna show their models dressed in a monochromatic way, Lindy Hemming is truly a genius!

  4. It might make sense for James Bond to look like he’s trying too hard. How many times did Brosnan’s Bond pose as a banker? If he doesn’t look the part, then he’s already failed as a spy. However, I think he actually escapes this trap. The color matching is more subtle than the usual faux pas, like matching fabrics for the tie and pocket square. I hadn’t noticed these fine details before and now I appreciate these outfits even more.

  5. Matt, I have often read that you thought Brosnan’s (Brioni) style far too continental for James Bond. Would you mind explaining that remark, please ? By continental, do you just mean Italian/Roman, or something else ? I am not a professional, of course, but the only distinctive features of the Brioni suits Brosnan wore seemed to be the straight, padded shoulders, and you said yourself in an article that this style was similar of an English military look. The only Italian attribute I knew, but I may be wrong, is the ventless back, and he only wears it with dinner jackets. There are the double reverse pleats too, but they are present in 2 movies on a total of 4. Besides, attributes that are supposed to be typically English, like the double vents or the ticket pocket, are very often found on the Brioni suits he wore. So I just would like to hear more about this continental look ( I presume you included only the cut of the suits in this look, not the one of the shirts and ties, because they were all from T&A ! ) you talked about. I am not criticizing anything, I just would appreciate to have some precisions about it. Thank you.

    • The Italian style of the 1990’s was the straight cut that we see in most of Brosnan’s suits. A bit more shape would have looked good on Brosnan. The suits lacked the waist suppression and flared skirt that can be found on many English suits. But I appreciate the English cloths and details that Hemming incorporated. But the reverse pleats too, which even made it into one suit in The World is Not Enough. Turnbull & Asser shirts were only worn in Tomorrow Never Dies and The World is Not Enough. The Brioni shirts in Die Another Day weren’t bad, though I find them lacking the subtle flair that Turnbull & Asser has.

      • Thanks for this very precise answer, Matt. I guess the typical Brioni cut and the aforementionned continental look are exactly the same thing ?

      • The typical Brioni cut today will be more shaped and have a higher button stance. There is no one “continental look.” But Brosnan’s Brioni suits do not have an English cut, which can vary too.

  6. I personally feel that Brosnan represented the essence of who Bond should be. In the words of the great Jack Taylor “Fashion comes and goes, but style lasts forever.” Brosnan’s tenure as Bond reached its pinnacle with The World is not Enough as far as sartorial imagery is concerned. Although part of Bond’s character is to wear neckties that do not distract from the face, they are indeed exquisite and in my opinion beyond reproach, and to prove there is no bias, my favorite film is The Living Daylights and I am counting the days till Craig finally leaves the role; So we can get on with the evolution of the character, rather than observing an agent in a suit that’s way too tight and sporting an eight dollar haircut.

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