Pierce Brosnan’s Prince Edward Suit at The World Is Not Enough’s European Charity Premiere

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Pierce Brosnan at takes the award for worst-dressed Bond actor at a Bond film premiere for his outfit at The World Is Not Enough‘s European Charity Premiere at the Odeon Leicester Square, London on 22 November 1999. I don’t usually like to unnecessarily write about unstylish outfits, but this black Prince Edward suit is something different. It looks like something out of a hire shop that a man with no personal style would pick for his prom or wedding for no reason other than because it stands out.

Photo sourced from Pierce Brosnan Files

The Prince Edward suit is loosely inspired by clothes that King Edward VII wore when he was Prince of Wales during the Victorian era. Prince Edward, or ‘Bertie’, usually wore frock coats and lounge suits, but this is neither. Because of his weight gain, he wore his double-breasted frock coat fastened in a single-breasted manner by only using a linked button through the buttonholes on either side of the front, and the 1990s Prince Edward coat roughly mimicks this by being a long single-breasted coat with a straight hem.

Pierce Brosnan’s 1990s version has a topcoat design. Manufacturers must have discovered that they could make a topcoat out of suiting, give it a catchy name and sell it as a new but historical garment. The coat has a fly front with three buttons, notched lapels, front darts and straight flap hip pockets. The coat lacks a waist seam, which is a defining aspect of a frock coat. Brosnan’s coat also lacks cuff buttons, which is frequently the sign of a hired suit. The lining is a bright purple satin for a bit of extra flash.

The trousers match the jacket in black. The trousers have a black satin waistband, suggesting they are from a hire shop and are designed to be paired with any jacket the shop has to offer.

The dark blue silk brocade waistcoat is the highlight of this outfit. It’s the only item here of any interest. It has five buttons down the front, and Brosnan wears the bottom button open. There are lapels and four welt pockets on the front. The tan plastic buttons are the only thing that lets the waistcoat down. The fancy waistcoat goes perfectly with the Victorian look of the outfit, and it’s the most authentic part of the outfit. Similar, but higher quality, waistcoats can still be purchased from Favourbrook in London today.

Brosnan’s white shirt has a wing collar and double cuffs. The black silk satin cravat is likely of the clip-on variety, though it has a yellow flower stickpin holding it to the shirt. A puffed dark blue silk pocket square coordinates with the waistcoat. His shoes are black patent leather cap-toe oxfords.

The 1990s were a time when black tie had fallen out of favour. People still wore dinner jackets but updated them with the three-button trend. Men thought that bow ties looked silly, so they’d wear a black satin long necktie instead. Without a black bow tie, it’s simply not black tie. Thankfully costume designer Lindy Hemming maintained Bond’s black tie reputation throughout this dark age and kept it alive for it to return to fashion once again in the 2010s.

Brosnan didn’t go for the popular button-three dinner jacket look at the premiere, but chose to go further from black tie. I do not know who is to blame for Brosnan dressing this way, but because Brosnan is known for wearing clothes so well, I think it’s fair to pick on him this time. Nobody is perfect.

The Prince Edward suit is inspired by Victorian style, which was a century out of date in 1999. It was trendy within the hire industry at the time, but it never caught on for men to purchase. It was not something stylish men by and large were wearing to fancy events. Rather than describe this outfit as unstylish, I think it’s more appropriate to call it costume. Brosnan looks like he’s dressed for a costume party rather than a film premiere. He doesn’t look like himself in it.

It is costume because it’s only available from costume shops and hire shops. It’s also costume because it has been a century since anything like it had been in fashion. It went from being unfashionable and outdated to a piece of costume once the last person to wear this outfit when it was last in fashion died. For this reason, the lounge suits and ties we’re still holding on to will never be dead in our lifetimes. At worst we may see the suit and tie become completely outdated, but we’ll never see it die. Because young men are still buying suits, there’s still plenty of hope for it. However, the Prince Albert coat is dead, if it was ever even alive.

If we compare this outfit to the closest clothing worn in the Victorian era, this would resemble daytime dress. Brosnan wears this for evening dress, which is inappropriate by Victorian standards when white tie would have been worn for such an occasion, if film premieres were a thing. So not only was Brosnan wearing costume, he was wearing the costume incorrectly.

Brosnan attended a number of premiere event for The World Is Not Enough. Brosnan wore black tie for the premiere of his other three Bond films, but never for The World Is Not Enough. For the Berlin premiere on 24 November he wore the same outfit but with a different waistcoat. For the Paris premiere on 25 November, Brosnan exchanged wing-collar shirt for a large-spread-collar shirt and the cravat for a black satin necktie. For the Los Angeles premiere on 9 November, the film’s true premiere, Brosnan wore a shiny black silk suit and a shiny sky blue silk shirt with a two-button collar. He wears the collar open without a tie. He was dressed in a flashy manner, but not in a formal manner.

25 COMMENTS

  1. I wonder what Pierce thinks of this suit now. He probably still has the suit, I know he has his Bond era suits or most of them.

  2. The best that can be said for it is possibly that it is very of its time. It could even have been worse: there was a fashion for very bright flashy silk daywear style waistcoats worn with any form of black-tie or similarly formal clothing in the mid-90s. It looked dreadful then and the years haven’t been kind.

    It does reflect other trends of the later 1990s, however, which in less extreme form were perfectly tasteful. The interest in neo-Edwardian clothing was a welcome reaction to the increasingly voluminous and shapeless suits that the early 90s had given us. Instead we got a slimmed down (without being shrunken) trim silhouette. The gorge of the lapel rose from somewhere halfway down the chest and three and even four button fronts were seen on single breasted suits.

  3. Where do we even begin with that? As you say, Pierce Brosnan is a remarkably stylish man and everyone is allowed a few blips… the nineties were… a trying time!

  4. I could see him getting away with it a couple of years earlier when Interview With a Vampire was still hot, there was a trend for that sort of foppery, but ’99 is a little late for that.

  5. As Brosnan was one of the most well dressed Bonds and also tended to look pretty good during this era (1999-2003, often wearing a lot of Brioni and T&A to publicity events), I’ll give him a pass on this odd outfit…

  6. I was best man for my brother in June 2003 and he (or his wife) chose similar outfits for the wedding party. We wore a similar non fastening single breasted long black coat with peak lapels, two columns of buttons and straight pocket flaps, white shirt with (unstarched) wing collar and a grey velveteen “rouche” tie (somewhere between a cravat and a standard long tie). The above was all hired but he had custom made waistcoats with silver grey satin fronts and red and white striped backs (the colours of our football team). Despite supplying our measurements the waistcoats were a very poor fit, too long with too many buttons.
    When you’re part of a wedding party you just have to grin and bear it but I still remain baffled as to who thought up this mish-mash of an outfit and why they would think it in any way stylish.

  7. I remember I bought a hideous suit in 2005. It was navy and shiny with subtle stripes, the jacket was knee long and had a nehru collar. And it had huge, shiny buttons. I’m not sure what I was thinking, but then again I was only 17 years old and had a thing for the extravagant.

  8. I saw this one a while ago, and was quite surprised, coming from him.
    I then assumed he must have lost a bet, but did not know that he ‘persevered’ in this oddity for a few evenings.

    ‘Etiam optimi errante possunt’.

  9. I generally concur with the criticisms leveled at this suit. I would, however, at least give Mr. Brosnan points for an oft-neglected aspect of men’s dressing for a night out: choosing fabrics and colours to complement those worn by the companion on one’s arm. Note how his choices graciously shift the focus of all these photographs to Keely Shaye Smith, who looks stunning next to him (and, at this writing, is now his partner of twenty-seven years). Yes, it would be better here if he’d simply set off more standard black-tie attire with a violet pocket handkerchief and perhaps a subtle set of amethyst or tourmaline cufflinks and shirt studs. Still, what he’s chosen is not entirely without merit.

  10. A part from ‘Q’ it looks like most of the men had fallen prey to a version of ‘Black Tie Costume Ball’ attire without a suitable sartorial road map! LOL. Thankfully most of the ladies that night kept it together tastefully. I suppose boys will on occasion be boys regretfully(especially when photographed for the record, yikes!).

    • Who looks worse, Pierce Brosnan in this costume or Robert Carlyle in his dad’s four sizes too big, three button notch lapel dinner suit, black shirt, black necktie, and what appear to be suede square toe shoes?

      They’re both so awful for such different reasons I’m finding it difficult to decide.

  11. Honestly not a fan of this outfit choice. I think that as you had put it Matt it is a costume. This is something that should have not been wore while promoting a James Bond movie! The only positive thing that I can find about this outfit is that it was never worn by the character James Bond in a film!

  12. Not a great ensemble! I would prefer standardised black tie with this event. I do not understand why Brosnan would wear this monstrosity! Brosnan is a handsom gent with his lovely wife. He is not wearing this to prom, but a James Bond premiere! I had a conversation with a chap that I went to high school with about the problems with rental wear. I wonder if Brosnan wanted to look unsettling. I am happy Bond did not favor this look, or the look of a necktie with black tie.

  13. John, if we’re talking Doctor Who, it’s closer to the 1996 Paul McGann incarnation (part of the Interview for the Vampire trend mentioned earlier).

    I think we can’t discount, as well as the low status of formalwear in the 1990s (Christopher Walken describes dressing in a tux for the Batman Returns premiere in LA in ’92 and getting roundly mocked), the weight of the role on the actor’s shoulders. Dressing up in black tie is a form of costume when you play James Bond, and this outfit is almost a cry for help, “I’m NOT James Bond, see!”

    Mr. Spaiser, just to be clear, do you think there is any way for Edwardian dress to be plausible as non-costume formalwear? Or is it the execution of this coat that makes it unworkable?

  14. Eh, Pierce gets a pass. While the outfit is awful, it’s one night out of dozens of premieres, and he wears it well. The end of ’99 was quite a party.

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