It’s June and Royal Ascot is in the air! James Bond’s first look at A View to a Kill‘s villain Max Zorin, played by Christopher Walken, in person is at Royal Ascot. Zorin wears a decidedly dark version of morning dress: a charcoal mini-herringbone three-piece morning suit with matching morning coat, waistcoat and trousers. Charcoal is an unusual colour for a whole morning suit, but in a stand-alone morning coat it is a traditional alternative to black. Prince Charles used to wear a charcoal herringbone morning suit when he was younger before he got the light grey sharkskin morning suit he’s known for wearing now.
A morning suit (where all three pieces match) is usually in a shade of grey from medium-dark to medium-light. A more formal form of morning dress involves a black or very dark charcoal/oxford grey morning coat, but it is worn with medium or dark grey striped or checked trousers and, for festive occasions, a pale-coloured waistcoat to balance the dark coat. Zorin’s morning dress is all dark, and when surrounded by men in lighter forms of morning dress it identifies him as a villain. Villains are often dressed in dark or flashy clothes to make them look sinister or untrustworthy.
Zorin’s morning coat is cut like a traditional example with peaked lapels, a link-front fastening and a cutaway front with knee-legnth tails at the back. A waist seam allows the coat to be cut very close to the body. The shoulders are straight and padded in the 1980s fashion, but they are narrow. The suit overall has a traditional look that avoids most 1980s trends.
The front fastens with a link button, which means that there is an additional button sewn to a long thread shank on the inside of the coat behind the regular outside button. The coat can be fastened normally with either the outside button or in the link fashion with the inside button. Using the inside “link” button means that the front will show two buttons and look symmetrical. The link button spreads the front open to provide more space by eliminating the overlap. The link front is a more formal fastening than a regular buttoning method, but it can only work on single-button jackets and coats and is most appropriate on a dinner jacket or morning coat. It is also traditionally found on the mess jacket.
The matching waistcoat is a traditional model with six buttons. The matching suit trousers have a close fit with narrow legs and likely a flat front.
A wing-collared shirt with a four-in-hand tie (a long tie) lends a late Victorian-era look to this outfit and marks Zorin as someone not from Britain. The conventional way to wear morning dress in most of 20th century Britain was how James Bond and his associates dress: a turn-down collar and a four-in-hand tie. Wearing a wing collar and/or a dress cravat (ascot) by 1984 was considered eccentric or would mark one as an outsider. Today the cravat is forbidden to wear in the Royal Enclosure, which is to prevent people from wearing costume-like clip-on cravats. The shirt is possibly from Frank Foster and is made from a lightweight white cotton. It has an attached wing collar, a front placket and double cuffs. The tie is mauve with subtle ribs, and Zorin ties it in a Windsor knot.
Zorin wears the traditional accessories for Royal Ascot morning dress: a light grey felt top hat with a black grosgrain ribbon at the base of the crown and a white carnation in his lapel.
Interesting outfit Zorin wears indeed in the film as it does not look traditional at all. WOuld you say Matt that an outfit like Zorin’s not be permitted in the Royal Ascot?
It’s permitted in the Royal Enclosure, since it follows the rule of black or grey morning dress.
I see but it would be much better if it was similar to Bond’s or Sir Tibbett’s morning suits don’t you think?
That’s a matter of taste.
Great morning suit. I only wish the wing collar were a bit higher in back (attached or not) if they were going to give him one. Otherwise, this getup would look perfect with a spread collar.
I couldn’t agree more. A spread collar or any kind of turndown collar would be an easier choice to avoid the collar gap problem. I like the association of the mauve tie with a white shirt and a dark grey (morning) suit a lot. It could work for Bond as well.
Excellent review of the suit Matthew.
Where do you rank Zorin in the realm of well dressed Bond villains?
Do you think it would be possible to add a section to your site on estimated worth of the suit at the date it was made, versus how much you’d pay now, versus how much you’d pay for the exact suit at auction.
A lot of work I know.
Zorin is one of the better-dressed villains, but not so close to the top.
I don’t think I could even find out how much these clothes would be worth then or now.
I presume you unbutton the coat when sitting. What happens to the link button? Does it just dangle?
If you choose to unbutton the morning coat (standing or sitting), the link button will indeed dangle, but it will be hidden inside the coat.
Perhaps he should have worn a black topper as well – that would have stood out against all those light grey versions. It’s interesting how nowadays almost everyone at Ascot wears black top hats (silk or wool) – in the past they were considered rather sombre and formal, with light grey the more ‘fun’ version for weddings, Royal garden parties, Ascot, etc.