The Man from Hong Kong: A 1970s Blazer

17

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I have previously written about all of the James Bond actors in roles other than James Bond except George Lazenby. Lazenby hasn’t had many other starring roles, but it wouldn’t be fair to not have representation of Lazenby outside the Bond series on this blog. Whilst Lazenby is very well-dressed as Bond, he unfortunately doesn’t dress so well in other roles. By leaving James Bond, George Lazenby made not only a bad career choice but also a bad fashion choice. His poor wardrobe is quite evident in the 1975 Australian/Hong Kong co-production The Man from Hong Kong. The film, released in the United State as The Dragon Flies, stars Jimmy Wang-Yu as Inspector Fan Sing-Ling with George Lazenby as gangster Jack Wilton.

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Lazenby wears a dark navy double-breasted blazer in The Man from Hong Kong. It is fashionable along the lines of Roger Moore’s double-breasted blazer in Moonraker, but this blazer has different problems, both due to 1970s fashion and due to fit. The blazer has six buttons in the traditional arrangement with two to button. It is detailed with patch pockets, single-button cuffs, swelled edges and silver-toned buttons. One of the best parts of this blazer is its elegant English-inspired silhouette. It has straight shoulders that are just the right width, a clean chest and a tightly—but neatly—suppressed waist. However, it has the serious fit problem of the jacket’s collar standing away from the neck.

More obvious than the fit problem are the fashion problems. Peaked lapels can be wider than notched lapels, but Lazenby’s fashionably wide lapels almost reach all the way across his chest to his sleeves. And a bigger problem with the blazer than the lapels is its very long single vent. Single vents are designed to split across the back of a horse whilst a straight double-breasted front is not, so the styles are incongruous. A single vent also doesn’t balance with the double-breasted front.

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Lazenby wears this blazer as a part of two outfits. The first outfit is a sporty one with an open-neck shirt and white trousers. The dark blue and white chambray shirt has a long point collar, worn outside of the blazer’s collar. Lazenby wears the collar and two buttons down the placket open. The two-button cuffs have rounded corners. The white trousers are probably polyester and have a pronounced flare to the leg, more pronounced than on any of Roger Moore’s 1970s James Bond trousers. The socks and venetian slip-ons are also white.

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The second outfit with the blazer includes a pale blue shirt, tie and mid grey trousers. The shirt has an eyelet collar worn with the kind of collar bar where the balls unscrew at the ends. Some consider this the most elegant kind of collar bar since everything fits together, though it can also be considered the most affected. A pin, clip or a slide-bar on a regular point collar looks more naturally stylish since the collar doesn’t have holes. The tie is a black, blue and red plaid, tied in a four-in-hand knot. Not much of the grey trousers can be seen, though they don’t appear to be as flared as the white trousers.

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17 COMMENTS

  1. What is interesting about all this is how it shows how some Bond actors had no innate dress sense themselves (Connery and Lazenby) but, despite this, they were able to be easily molded sartorially to the role while others (Moore and Brosnan) had an innate sense for tailoring and tasteful dress which means that one can find better fodder for blog posts in their other roles. Dalton; well, unfortunately nobody invested enough time in Bond-ing him properly.

    This outfit is so-so. From the photos the issues with the blazer which you point out are not so apparent but some of the accoutrements I wouldn’t care much for; the white moccasins and the shirt worn with the tie. The darker blue shirt wouldn’t be so bad if tucked inside his jacket and the lapels, well, I wouldn’t be their worst critic. I’ve no great issue with a certain embracing of current fashions provided the garment, as a whole, is well tailored. So many in every decade, but especially now in our off-the-peg era, fall down badly in that regard.

    A lot of Lazenby’s post-OHMSS movies seem to have been dross but perhaps you might find some more inspiration in a 1983 “Man from UNCLE” TV movie in which he played a character called JB who drove an Aston Martin and wore very Bond-like clothing and an episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents entitled “Diamond’s aren’t Forever” (they’re not particularly subtle, are they?!) where he also played a Bond type role? I haven’t seen either except in stills so I can’t vouch for any more than this.

    • Lazenby also played a Bond-like character in an episode of the short-lived early 1980’s spy series “Cover-up” with Jennifer O’Neill and the late Tony Hamilton.

    • David, for once I agree with you about Dalton 100%. His wardrobe in The Living Daylights is pretty good considering it was thrown together at the last minute, but the fact that he pushed to make the wardrobe as restrained as it was in Licence to Kill (the colour palette is spot on, even if the fit isn’t) shows that the costume department didn’t care about making him Bondian in the slightest.

    • Another problem with this outfit is the combination of DB blazer with pinned collar. A DB blazer, especially one with padded shoulders and wide lapels, requires a big spread or semi-spread collar, so that all the lines point in the same direction (i.e., towards the shoulders).

  2. If Lazenby had been wiser,could hold the 007 role until late 80s.
    At least Connery was more intelligent; leave when had become a star.
    Wow it would end if had gone after “Doctor No”?
    Poor George Lazenby..a real pity!

  3. Having a suit from the 70’s passed down to me, I’ve often wondered when wide lapels were going to come back into style. Though to top the suit I’ve got or the jacket Lazenby’s wearing in this, somebody’s probably going to get lapels that jut right past the width of their chest! I shudder to imagine…

  4. Would a plaid tie such as the one he’s wearing be cut specifically to show off the plaid in that way? Or is that just the way they come out?

  5. Low budget. Cheap looking suit, and a bad haircut, even for the 1970s. Looks like a TV movie detective. Perhaps had he kept the role he would have looked better, but Lazenby wanted long hair and a beard (at least, that is what he told me) so he gave up the role to pursue more “hip” movies. I am not sure he would have suitable for what the series needed ot survive in the 1970s – which was the escapism of Spy and Moonraker.

    I do have a comment on Brosnan – while I agree that Roger Moore is usually well dressed (though his tastes are not to my liking), why do we generally think on this blog that Pierce Brosnan fits that description and has some innate sense of style? His clothing in his professional life is designed for the role and vary quite a bit from The Thomas Crown Affair (whose original even had a very well-dressed Steve McQueen) to Mama Mia and The Fourth Protocol. His choices in his personal life seems questionable on the red carpet and other events I have seen. And I have occasionally seen him around Malibu and LA and he looks lke any other wealthy, industry WestSider – which is to say sloppily dressed.

    • Not only did Lazenby want long hair and a beard, he also REALLY wanted bell bottoms. He says in a post OHMSS interview that all the guys he knows who are romantically fulfilled (my paraphrase) are wearing bell bottoms, and the Bond producers are making him wear ‘stovepipe pants”. So there you have it – he gives up a 7-movie contract to play 007 for the sake of bell bottoms. The 60’s really were the beginning of the end for western civilization!

    • Dan, to be fair, the trousers in OHMSS were too narrow 😉

      Actually, I really like the OHMSS suits – except for the narrow trousers.

    • From everything I’ve read elsewhere about Lazenby, the only informed style decision he ever made was picking up the rejected Connery Anthony Sinclair suit before he was cast in OHMSS. I read on a more recent post by Matt that he donated the suit to charity afterward, not accounting for its significance. This clinches it.

  6. Not only does his attire reek of a cheap ’70s B-film, his overall appearance looks strangely similar that of independent filmmaker H.B. Halicki in his “car thief” disguise from the movie Gone in 60 Seconds:

    http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4139/4906773010_2d80419d1d.jpg

    Between this, Gene Rayburn, and many other examples, it seems as if quite a few suits of the era had collars that stood too far away from the neck.

    -Kurt

  7. Thanks Matt, for covering this little Aussie thriller. At one stage, I believe, Bruce Lee was to have been The Man but, sadly, he was unavailable by 1975 when filming started. Lazenby’s character was attempting to flood Australia with cheap dope so you could say he was a white, Australian version of Kananga from LALD.
    I won’t argue about the blazer – the fit is dreadful. But the collar pin here, unlike Steele’s, is more than an ornament. It keeps the collar points from flapping about and the tie knot where it should be. So a few brownie points for that. But it’s true that you’re stuck with ugly, useless holes in your collar if you lose the little ball from the end of the pin. It’s happened to me…

  8. Lazenby is very well dressed in the 1972 Italian movie Chi l’ha vista morire (Who Saw Her Die?) No suits, but wears a gorgeous cardigan, and beige cashmere jumper throughout the movie.

    • Jean DVD, with the greatest respect, I watched that movie (a kind of cheapo precursor to the superior “Don’t Look Now” which followed a year or so later) and I can only recall Lazenby having a very limited wardrobe and none of it remarkable. I strongly doubt that the polo neck you refer to was cashmere and he wore it for about 80% of the (half-baked) movie. It looked cheap. Pretty much like the movie itself. As I said earlier, most of his post Bond movies were a case of forever floundering around in low budget but if Matt has nothing better to do he could check this out and give his take….Adolfo Ceili pops up in the movie, incidentally.

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