James Bond villains are known for their flash, but some of them wear their creative styles in a tasteful way. Only a handful of Bond villains have a style that can compare to James Bond’s sartorial level. Here are the seven best-dressed main Bond villains, counting down to the one who challenges James Bond as the best-dressed man of his film.
007. Hugo Drax (Moonraker, 1955 novel and 1979 film)
Drax is included mainly for the description of his clothes in Ian Fleming’s Moonraker novel, which reads:
Bond concluded his inspection with Drax’s clothes which were expensive and in excellent taste-a dark blue pinstripe in lightweight flannel, double-breasted with turnback cuffs, a heavy white silk shirt with a stiff collar, an unobtrusive tie with a small grey and white check, modest cuff-links, which looked like Cartier, and a plain gold Patek Philippe watch with a black leather strap.
These clothes had much in common with Ian Fleming’s own style, which is why Fleming had Bond approve of it. In the books Bond more often found villains dressing in poor taste, like with Red Grant’s Windsor knot or Count Lippe’s Anderson & Sheppard drape-cut tailoring. Drax may qualify as the best-dressed villain of the books.
Hugo Drax, played by Michael Lonsdale, has a more varied wardrobe in the Moonraker film, but his three-piece double-breasted suit is a magnificent look. His Victorian and Edwardian-inspired hunting suit and cape are a fascinating costume that helps him look suspiciously villainous. His more predictably villainous Mao jackets stylistically link him to Blofeld but don’t give him a special sense of style.
006. Aris Kristatos (For Your Eyes Only, 1981)
Kristatos, played by Julian Glover, has a down-to-earth wardrobe to follow the film’s tone. His double-breasted dinner suit matches the elegance of James Bond’s dinner suit. His beautiful olive suede trenchcoat has a black fur collar, revers and lining and it’s dramatic but not without taste. His padded cotton jacket with a wool knit lining is very much of its time, but when paired with a brown printed shirt it gives him a realistic look that suits the film.
005. Le Chiffre (Casino Royale, 2006)
Le Chiffre, played by Mads Mikkelsen, dresses like a villainous version of James Bond mostly by switching the classic light-coloured shirts to dark shirts. Costume designer Lindy Hemming described Le Chiffre and his dinner jacket in Casino Royale‘s production notes:
He’s not flashy, he’s secretive. He isn’t a man who is much interested in clothes, but what he wears is expensive and luxurious. His Brioni evening suit is velvet, to emphasize richness.
The dark shirts contribute to his secretive look; by keeping everything dark he’s not drawing attention to himself. However, he’s wearing clothes that are well made and clothes that fit him well. His velvet peaked-lapel dinner jacket is classically elegant. The black dress shirt from Turnbull & Asser contrasts him with James Bond—who wears a traditional white shirt—to mark him as the villain. His other suits and shirts are dark, but they’re not black to ensure his clothes have depth and interest.
004. Dr Kananga (Live and Let Die, 1973)
Kananga, played by Yaphet Kotto, has a flashy sense of style but wears it with restraint. His alter ego Mr Big, on the other hand, takes it to the extreme, so this will just be focusing on Kananga’s own persona. Kananga starts the film looking respectable in black lounge, and in his San Monique home he wears flashy but tasteful double-breasted suits in tan and purple. His black high-buttoning jacket and scarf that he wears in his lair when he meets his demise gives him a more classically Bond villain look, but with his own twist.
His suits are beautifully made by Roger Moore’s tailor Cyril Castle and his shirts are exquisitely made by Moore’s shirtmaker Frank Foster. Being dressed by the same person who makes Bond’s clothes never hurts.
003. Auric Goldfinger (Goldfinger, 1964)
Auric Goldfinger, played by Gert Fröbe, is a man knows what he loves—gold. Goldfinger embodies extravagance, but his style isn’t vulgar. His clothes are all gold, brown or golden brown, which both suits his golden persona and flatters his pale, warm complexion. His preference for shawl collars, not only on his dinner jacket but also on his suit, are not the most flattering to a man of his size, but they suit the character.
His silk dinner jacket in brown and gold, with gold buttons, may not be a conservative choice, but it looks spectacular on him because it’s a warm colour. The gold studs down the front of his Frank Foster rounded-point-collar dress shirt are a wonderful touch. His shawl-collar checked suit is likewise a fascinating piece for showing how a shawl collar can work on a country suit. His golfing suit with plus fours worn with a golden yellow cardigan looks old-fashioned, but it’s appropriate for the character and is flattering on him. His brown tweed jacket and yellow tattersall waistcoat at his Kentucky ranch effectively portrays a confident and comfortable man.
002. Emilio Largo (Thunderball, 1965)
Largo, played by Adolfo Celi, contributes to the beauty of Thunderball through his wardrobe, just as every other character in the film does. Largo demonstrates through his tasteful clothes that James Bond has met his match. His charcoal three-piece suit in his introductory scene gives him an elegance that matches James Bond’s. Channelling Humphrey Bogart in his ivory double-breasted, shawl-collar dinner jacket, he looks elegant and tough opposite Bond at the chemin de fer table. His eight-button double-breasted blazer is magnificent, and he pulls it off with day cravat and no shirt. It’s not good for the blazer, but it’s good for a flamboyant Bond villain.
Largo’s casual style also sets him apart from other Bond villains. His long-sleeve lido-collar shirts in white and white-and-bronze stripe are the most elegant examples of tropical casual shirts. Largo wears everything with the presence, confidence and comfort that one needs to look their best.
001. Kamal Khan (Octopussy, 1983)
Kamal Khan, played by Louis Jourdan, takes the spot for best-dressed villain. He is the only villain to wear both Eastern and Western styles with equal aplomb, and every outfit he wears is special. Amongst them are beautiful suits in navy and beige, a grey tweed jacket, a black dinner suit and an olive safari suit. These are all outfits that would be entirely appropriate for James Bond himself, portraying Khan as a villain who is an equal match for Bond. His silk Nehru jackets in India are beautifully made and recall—while also improving upon—the look of the original Bond film villain, Dr. No.
No outfit stands out as more or less than any other from his wardrobe, but his black peaked-lapel dinner suit demonstrates that he wears black tie as well as or better than James Bond. Like many other villains here, his shirts are made by Bond’s shirtmaker Frank Foster. The dress shirt with his dinner suit is identical to Bond’s shirt, except it’s in white cotton rather than ecru silk. Khan gives the outfit the more traditional touch of a cummerbund, while Bond’s dinner suit has a fancy wide silk waistband to the take the place of the cummerbund.
Since this is a menswear-focused website, I’m only including the male villains. Elektra King, however, is a beautifully dressed female villain, and there are plenty of well-attired femme fatales throughout the series.
There are also well-dressed henchman like Red Grant, Kronsteen, Gobinda and Mr Hinx. Even Jaws dresses admiriably in his first appearance in The Spy Who Loved Me.
Who do you think are the best-dressed Bond villains? Leave a comment below.