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.
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.