Cyril Castle produced some of the most dramatic and creatively tailored suits of the James Bond series when he tailored Roger Moore. However, Moore was displeased with one aspect of Cyril Castle’s suits, despite being a client of theirs for over a decade. Roger Moore’s relationship with Cyril Castle had already been established when Moore began starring in The Saint in 1962, and the relationship continued through The Man with the Golden Gun in 1974. In his Bond films, Moore only wore Cyril Castle suits in Live and Let Die and The Man with the Golden Gun.
When Peter Brooker talked with Roger Moore’s personal assistant Gareth Owen in doing research for our book From Tailors with Love: An Evolution of Menswear Through the Bond Films, Gareth spoke about how Moore would disparage Castle’s suits when they watched his first two Bond films. Moore cited the collar on suits and jackets as a reason for ceasing to use Castle’s services, but becoming a tax exile was another reason for leaving Castle as Moore was unable to spend much time in the United Kingdom.
Moore’s issue with the collars was that they would ride up at the back of the neck. Moore touched on this in his Blu-ray commentary for For Your Eyes Only, even though he was wearing suits from Doug Hayward in that film rather than from Cyril Castle. In this commentary he stated that after he sent Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin to Castle around the time of Live and Let Die, they too complained about the same issue and never forgave him for that.
Moore stated that told Frank and Dean, ‘You have to bend forward on your final fitting and say, “It’s riding up,”‘ so that Castle would take care of the issue.
Cyril’s brother Claude Castle was the cutter behind the scenes who was ultimately responsible for the look and feel of the suits. Cyril was the front man while Claude was the true genius at work.
Castle’s collars were indeed problematic. The jacket collars noticeably sit very low around the shirt collar, showing most of the height of the shirt collar in back while also often revealing the front edges of the shirt collars. Frank Foster made Roger Moore’s shirts to sit very high on the neck, which was partially due to the 1970s fashions, but Moore may also have wanted a high shirt collar to further prevent the jacket collars from riding up on top of the shirt collar. The leaf of his shirt collars in The Man with the Golden Gun likely measures a mighty 2 1/8 to 2 1/4 inches high at the back of the neck with points of approximately 3 1/4 inches long.
Even if Moore’s shirt collars weren’t so high, too much of the shirt collar shows at the back of the neck. While approximate 1/2 to 3/4 inch of shirt collar should ideally show above the jacket collar (even with a high shirt collar), Moore shows well over 1 inch of shirt collar and it looks terribly unbalanced. Despite the shirts having long collar points, Castle’s jacket collars were sometimes so low that the bottom edge of the collar leaf was visible in front, which should not be the case with these semi-spread collars.
It is possible that the jacket collars ride up because they are so low. However, it’s also possible that Castle lowered the collars in an effort to remedy the issue. I am not a tailor and thus cannot provide a professional assessment. There could also be other factors at play, such as the narrow shoulders, or a combination of different elements. Judging the cause of the issue on screen may not be able to provide a definitive answer.
A well-cut bespoke jacket should have a collar that hugs the neck at almost all times. It is an area where bespoke is able to exceed other methods of suitmaking thanks to the extra care with drafting the pattern and the construction. The same issue does not occur nearly as often on the jackets that Angelo and Hayward made for Roger Moore, so it was indeed an issue specific to Cyril Castle.
However, this issue is never 100% avoidable because people are living and breathing in their suits. The neatness and perfection of a tailored jacket is prioritised when the body is standing in a relaxed position. When the body is in other positions or in motion, good tailoring allows for comfort and ease of movement, but not a perfect appearance. It is not possible for a jacket to look like a stretchy, conforming bodysuit in every position.
You can read more inside stories about Bond’s suits like this in From Tailors with Love: An Evolution of Menswear Through the Bond Films.