“Not mad about his tailor, are you?” says Bond to Kerim Bey about Benz’s suit. Benz is a Russian security agent played by English actor Peter Bayliss in From Russia with Love. Why doesn’t Bond like Benz’s suit? The first thing that stands out about this suit is not due to the tailor’s work but is the suit’s garish cloth. The suit is light grey with large horizontal ribs and black chalk stripes, which are muted by the grey base. Dark stripes can sometimes work on a suit, but not against the contrast of a light grey ground. The black chalk stripes immediately mark Benz as an enemy.
It’s no surprise that Bond does not favour Benz’s tailor’s work. The button one suit jacket has a very full drape cut, which had become very unfashionable in the 1960s. It looks like it was made in the 1940s. The chest is full with a lot of drape and the waist is gently suppressed. The shoulders are wide, but they are well done with natural-looking padding and cleanly-draped, full sleeves. The cut of the jacket is meant to make Benz look like a much stronger man than he is, but that deception is apparent when Bond turns his suit jacket into a straight jacket and exposes Benz’s shoulders.
The suit jacket is detailed with jetted pockets, no vent and four-button cuffs. The lapels have a steep gorge, which both makes the lapels seem wider than they are and makes the medium gorge height seem lower than it is. The lapels have a very wide notch. The suit’s buttons are black plastic to match the black stripes and sewn with grey thread to match the suit. The suit’s trousers are full-cut with pleats and have wide legs with turn-ups.
Benz wears a rather cheap-looking cream shirt with his suit. It has a short, moderate spread collar and square single-button cuffs. The collar and cuffs are stitched 1/8″ from the edge, which is mostly what lends a cheap look to the shirt. Most top-quality makers have 1/4″ stitching on the collar and cuffs, and whilst there are some high-end makers that stitch the collar and cuffs 1/8″ or closer to the edge, it’s mostly done on poor-quality shirts.
Whilst Benz’s black satin silk tie complements the suit’s black stripes, the navy satin silk pocket square—folded in a winged puff—clashes with the tie. However, the navy pocket square matches Benz’s navy socks, which is quite creative. Benz’s shoes are black.
Benz briefly is seen with a black felt hat, but the type of hat is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Instead of the crown tapering upward, the crown bells out like on a top hat. The crown is much shorter than a top hat’s crown, and the top is domed. The brim is turned down all the way around. The hat has a black grosgrain ribbon with a large bow. Is anyone familiar with the style of Benz’s hat, seen on top of his briefcase below?
Ian Fleming did not write about Benz’s suit in the From Russia with Love novel, but he wrote about Benz’s dressing gown:
Reluctantly, his heavy face pale with anger, the M.G.B. man who called himself Benz stepped out into the corridor in a brilliant blue silk dressing-gown. The hard brown eyes looked straight into Bond’s, ignoring him … Bond noticed the bulge under the left arm of the dressing-gown, and the ridge of a belt round the waist. He wondered if he should tip off the plain-clothes man. He decided it would be better to keep quiet. He might be hauled in as a witness.
At least Fleming’s Benz had fine taste in loungewear, though all he wears in the film is his one striped suit.