Max Zorin’s Grey Power Suits in A View to a Kill

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The complete power suit outfit could not have been a better choice for a 1980s James Bond villain. It is the perfect look for a man such as A View to a Kill‘s Max Zorin, who relentlessly seeks more power. Christopher Walken’s Zorin may be happiest in the saddle, but he looks most the part of a 1985 industry mogul when dressed in either of his two grey suits.

Zorin’s suits, one in mid-grey flannel and one in charcoal pinstripe, have the quintessential look of their time thanks to prominent squared shoulders. They have a 1980s low button stance but with a medium gorge, which helps them to better stand the test of time compared to many suits of this era. These suits are most likely made by an English tailor considering the film’s base of production and some of the suits’ stylistic details.

The Charcoal Pinstripe Suit

For a short, but memorable, scene aboard Zorin’s dirigible, Zorin wears a charcoal double-breasted suit with a subtle red pinstripe. This is Zorin’s true power suit, and he wears it in a boardroom of sorts where it looks most at home. It’s while he wears this suit that we see the psychopath that Zorin truly is.

The suit jacket is a button one, show two. This was a popular double-breasted style at the time, but in Zorin’s example the button stance is not as low as was common at the time. The fastening buttons are placed higher than the jetted hip pockets, while more commonly at the time the buttons would have been placed down at that level. The jacket’s peaked lapels are a medium width with a medium gorge. The jacket has three cuff buttons, pick-stitched lapels, and double vents.

Zorin wears an ecru shirt with white stripes paired with a solid red silk repp tie and a solid burgundy silk pocket square. The shirt is made by Roger Moore’s and Bond-series shirtmaker Frank Foster, and it has a semi-spread collar and button cuffs. The tie is made in a Windsor knot. The red in the tie and pocket square coordinate with this suit’s red pinstripes. The tie and pocket square coordinate with each other by being different shades of red, but they do not match. While this pairing is preferable to wearing a matching tie and pocket square set, these items clash. If one had a pattern, even a subtle pin dot pattern, it would prevent the two items from competing as they do here. This is the only main strike against Zorin’s outfits. The pocket square is slightly puffed.

The ecru shirt is more flattering to Zorin’s pale skin and bleached hair than a pure white shirt would be. The red tie is also flattering to Zorin’s warm complexion while being a power colour.

The Grey Flannel Suit

The grey flannel suit is lightweight and probably a worsted flannel. The jacket’s cut is single-breasted with two buttons, and the top button is placed low on the waist. There are two buttons on each cuff. It has a fairly boxy fit through the body, but it doesn’t look overly full. With its design of three open patch pockets — two hip patch pockets and one breast patch pocket — and swelled edges it’s a sporty suit. The strong shoulders may be slightly at odds with the sporty style, but a more relaxed cut wouldn’t suit the character. The rear of the jacket has double vents.

The suit trousers are cut with a straight leg that’s fitted through the thighs but does not taper through the knee, so the hem is fairly wide. This was a popular way to cut trousers in the first half of the 1980s, taming the 1970s flares but not moving to a completely different style.

Zorin wears this suit on two occasions: first in his study at his French chateau and later at San Francisco City Hall. In his chateau, he wears a light blue shirt with a navy tie that has alternating light grey and light blue stripes that coordinate with the suit and shirt, respectively. A navy silk pocket square elegantly coordinates with the tie. It’s folded to point towards the shoulders, which subtly makes the shoulders look more prominent.

This is a very well-planned outfit with none of Zorin’s usual intuitive improvisation. Some may say the combinations are too studied, but the look is still sophisticated.

In San Francisco, Zorin pairs this suit with the same ecru striped shirt that he wore aboard his airship, but he’s about to make the same mistake twice as he wears the red tie and burgundy pocket square together again, though the tie and pocket square still clash with each other. Maybe the repeat of the accessories is a convenient coincidence, but repetition of the same items shows a realistic travel wardrobe. The bright red continues to reflect Zorin’s wild personality, while the blue tie earlier portrays him as a calmer man. The burgundy pocket square is folded to angle towards the face, which subtly draws the eye towards the face.

In the San Francisco scene he wears this suit with black round-toed shoes. Not much of the shoes are seen, and they are not visible on the other occasions, but they appear to be a traditional English-style shoe.

33 COMMENTS

  1. Matt,

    I don’t know of anyone who can so capably spot a Frank Foster shirt at twenty paces.

    Do you simply know the shirts were made by Frank Foster or do you take a look, see the signs and identify it? If that’s the case, what’s the giveaway?

    Pete

    • I know that Frank Foster made these shirts. I can’t see enough of the shirts to tell from sight that Frank Foster made them, though the collars are enough to tell me that they’re English shirts.

  2. Can’t say I hate either suit. The shoulders might be bordering on comically large but with Walken’s relatively slight frame it doesn’t look awful. I’ve seen far worse examples of power suits!

  3. Recycling a suit in separate scenes is unusual but acceptable. Recycling a shirt/tie/ pocket square combination with two different suits in separate scenes shows remarkable stinginess for such a big budget film. Definitely making “the same mistake twice”!!

    “The strong shoulders may be slightly at odds with the power shoulders” – can you elaborate on this please Matt?

      • You also have a reference to red pinstripes in the section about the lighter grey suit when mentioning the tie/ps combo again. I was thrown off for a second but I think you just have that sentence in the wrong section.

    • It’s not necessarily a sign of a lack of budget. Remember, there are as many as five different people (actor, director, creative director, costume designer, wardrobe master) who influence the way a character dresses on screen. If they decided that they want to show a more realistic travel wardrobe for Zorin, especially as contrasted with “James St. John-Smythe’s” ostentatiously bottomless wardrobe, it makes some sense that, outside of a dedicated outfit like a tuxedo or the morning suit he wore to Ascot, he would only have a few, versatile suits, shirts, ties, and accessories that he could mix and match with each other for different situations.

      • Yeah OK but the guy’s a sinister billionaire aiming at world domination. It would be more in character for him to travel with a large set of LV steamer trunks and rolling wardrobe cases with a broad selection of suits, shirts and ties to fit any occasion!
        If we’re going for realism I wouldn’t mind seeing some of Craig Bond’s wardrobe being recycled from film to film as they did with a few of Connery’s threads. Remember he’s now portrayed as an austere and serious bloke who lives in an empty apartment with Orange crates for furniture, but seems to have a bottomless supply of suits, shirts, ties, watches, sunglasses etc for each film.

      • I tend to agree with Rod re: Craig’s apartment; the previous two times we saw Bond’s apartment it was either 60’s cool (DN) or 70’s over the top (but still elegant and FUN – LALD). And now Bond lives like a college student?

      • One more thing re: Rod’s comment. Craig has to have “a bottomless supply of suits, shirts, ties, watches, sunglasses etc for each film” in order to do product placement. His sparsely furnished apartment, on the other hand, is supposed to show us that, deep down, he is a no-frills kind of guy – which of course runs counter to previous characterizations. I, for one, miss the days when Bond could carry on about obscure vintages, rare orchids and butterflies, and the correct temperature at which to serve sake. Those little touches, along with his tailoring, distinguished him from other, more run-of-the mill and long-forgotten action stars. I always thought it was a mistake to model Craig’s Bond after the more proletarian and conflicted Jason Bourne. Bond was and still is a cultural icon, whereas Bourne is already passe’ and will be completely forgotten five years from now.

      • It’s an interesting debate D.I. I always return to the Book Bond as my touchstone for the character, wherein he’s presented as you say a “no frills” kind of fella which was aptly portrayed by Connery in the first few films so certain fussy flamboyances like Moore’s butterfly suit cuffs or Craig’s tab collar shirts seem to run counter to that. This is a man who doesn’t even like to tie his shoes! In opposition to the austere monk assassin, Fleming still loved to pepper his prose with references to luxury living, fine dining etc from his own interests and some of that found its way into the films. In certain moments it adds a bit of colour and depth to the character as you say. Like anything there’s a happy medium and his smug one upmanship of M – Lepidoptery in OHMSS and identifying the vintage of the champagne from which the liqueur was made in DAF stretched believability to breaking point, along with making him appear dislikable and what we call in our local vernacular, a “clever shite”! Interestingly when Moore identifies the lion fish in TSWLM by its Latin genus, in the film after a brief pause he just rattles it off and the audience is left to believe it must be just yet another sphere in which our hero is an expert, but in the novelisation he’s crapping himself when put on the spot by Stromberg and it makes for a tense moment until he remembers his college room mate had a fish just like it.

      • I don’t mind Craig-Bond’s apartment all that much. It just comes off to me like clothes and drink are his only indulgences. Would have been nice to see a rolling rack of his suits, shirts, ties, etc. off to one wall though, maybe a bar cart too. I will agree that the worldly Bond who knew various subjects is missed by me and they could have added that to Craig’s characterization without sacrificing his more vulnerable and troubled persona. But I also agree that they did it to the point of obnoxiousness at times in past movies. To be honest though, would Bond ever be all that likable in reality? Would you… actually want him as a friend? I think he is meant to be “a bit of a prick” even dating back to the spy novels from which he came. Maybe Moore and Dalton’s incarnations excepted.

      • It may be because I am a college professor and Trivial Pursuit buff (a “clever shite” in Rod’s formulation?), but I don’t find the omnicompetence of the first three Bonds offputting in any way. Yes, it’s a bit unrealistic, but, starting with GF, realism went out the window. If anything, I am annoyed by Craig’s “vulnerable and troubled persona”. I know I’ve said this before, but movie Bond should be a fun and aspirational figure, not an angsty Eeyore. On a different note, I agree with Rod about Craig’s tab collars – they are not Bondian in any known movie universe.

      • I feel like you may have missed my point a little. I’m not just talking about his endless knowledge. I’m talking about other aspects of his personality. The fact that he can just barely call Felix Leiter, someone who works for another government who he has a professional working relationship at best in most movies, a friend is kind of telling to me.

      • Jovan, perhaps I am in fact misunderstanding you; are you implying that the closest thing Bond has to a friend is “someone who works for another government with whom he has a professional working relationship at best” and therefore we should surmise that Bond is a prick with no real friends, or are you implying that Bond is so emotionally repressed and antisocial that he can just barely call Felix a friend? I couldn’t quite tell….

      • Jovan, I realize it is very difficult to convey “tone” in a discussion thread, but I assure you I wasn’t trying to be petulant or to split hairs with my last comment; I was genuinely confused and was merely asking for clarification.

  4. It would seem plausible that the solid red tie worn by Walken and that worn by Moore in the office scenes came from the same source as they look pretty much identical. Unless you can see some subtle difference in shade, Matt.

  5. Matt, I know you often cover tie width for a specific tie, but what about an article about tie width throughout the series? Thanks.

  6. The picture on the blimp when Walken has his fist to his mouth makes me instantly think of Bardem’s Silva in Skyfall. It was said the hairstyle of the character was inspired by Zorin. It is solid evidence, isn’t it ?

  7. These suits are timeless, too bad the tailor/ brand is unknown. I would wear both of them today without hesitation !

  8. A shame, in my view, that Zorin’s pinstripe double-breasted suit he wears in the dirigible’s boardroom wasn’t a button two, show three (6×2), and that the pockets aren’t the standard flap. I prefer the ‘usual’ DB suit silhouette.

    I do like that he pairs his suit with the striped ecru shirt. I’d have gone one further and had matched the whole ensemble with red tie of a subtle red + dark red or blue repp pattern, if not something akin. Might be a busy look – all stripes – but Zorin is definitely a ‘go big!’ dude in business, as opposed to his subtler equestrian look.

    Not sure what I’d do with the pocket square. Perhaps a red paisley to offset the stripes, if not a red & blue paisley for a colour counterpoint.

  9. Interesting post and coverage of one of the dapper villains. I don’t think the shoulders are particularly “large” – the last decade’s fashion may have skewed perception. “Strong” shoulders were somewhat the point for a long time and I personally am of the opinion that the lower button stance is generally better than a comparatively higher-than-neutral one. And, these two suits avoid the oversized look of the last post 1985 period, as Matt notes, thanks to the medium gorge. Overall, nicely put together look for Zorin.

    • I agree about the shoulders. Brosnan wore similar shoulders as well, and both had a classic look. A straight and slightly padded shoulder, whether at a correct width or extending slightly past one’s shoulders is a classic look -like the 1940s and 1950s- to me, and unless someone has very muscular shoulders, it’s a style that works well with almost every kind of physique. Only the 1980s shoulders of the LTK suits look terribly dated to me.

  10. I’m not sure that the Zorin’s suits falls in the Power suit field.
    A power suit in 80s was clearly the come back of the old American bold look suit of late 40s; roomy ,with huge padded shoulders.
    Zorin’s suits are more proporzionate; are the type of suit thar could wear Remington Steele/Pierce Brosnam in early 80s.

    About the Zorin’s Kent double breasted,in my opinion the horizontal buttons stance,is too much close for a Kent model.

    • Zorin’s jackets’ shoulders are noticeably larger than his and, and when combined with the low button stance it gives him a power look. The pre-power suit Remington Steele suits had squared but very narrow shoulders. Zorin’s shoulders are wider. The suits don’t go to the extremes of power suits like what Brosnan was wearing in 1985, but the double-breasted suit is particularly a power suit with the subtle red stripe.

  11. Hi Matt, thought you might be interested to know about the extent of the appeal of your site. I hate formal occasions, and I can’t bear formal dressing. I’m very glad to have a job that allows me to wear jeans and t shirts to work. You wouldn’t catch me wearing a single thing that features in this blog. But – I do get a bit nerdy about things, and I do love Bond films. And so I find your blog strangely compelling! Keep up the obsession!

  12. I have to say that these suits bring back memories. It was in the 1980s that I first bought business suits for work. These cuts remind me of those days.

    What I like about these Walken suits is how well they fit his dancer’s body. The look strikes me as relatively restrained, and not a Mao jacket in sight.

    The look really reflects that Zorin has fully embraced Capitalism, and rejected the ways of the East, in this case the Soviet Union.

    I think the color choices suit Walken and and I I like the subtle stripes on the suit and shirt. I have to say I like low button stances and I congratulate the tailors for creating a double-breasted suit that has such a slim profile. It doesn’t look too tight and it doesn’t make Zorin look old and out of style or too big.

    I really like these suits. They have the look of their time without losing a certain timeless look.

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