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 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 1/2 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.
These are details that I doubt any of the other Bond actors would have even noticed. Possibly Brosnan, who is still very well dressed in his private life.
I think it shows Moore’s deep understanding and passion for clothes.
A fascinating read Matt, and I must admit to being a little heartbroken when I first read about this in From Tailors With Love. Primarily because I love Cyril Castle’s suits when Moore was 007, and I also love his work for Moore in the Saint and especially The :Persuaders. His suits always managed to have dash and flair while others looked a little more anonymous.
Now that I see it I can’t unsee it! I still have a lot of respect for Castle’s suits thought, I love everything Roger wears in TMWTGG
What Claude Castle lacked in technique he makes up for in creativity.
Ah yes, I see what you meant in our recent phone call. Everything else about Castle’s suits is pretty spot on. But I can see why one would become frustrated after bringing up this issue with their tailor several times and not having it completely solved. Kind of like your stylist or barber not fixing the issues with your haircut after many visits.
Great read Matt. Regardless of the collar riding, there are some great clothes here. That blue silk suit in TMWTGG is a thing of beauty!
Interesting. Can’t say I ever noticed it. It does seem strange that he remained their client for over a decade if it bothered him so much.
It would be interesting to read an interview with a tailor such as Frank Shattuck (cf discussion on your FB post) on his views on fit etc of the various Bind actors’ suits. All of them have some areas that are lacking I’m sure.
Well, Mr. Shattuck will say that being in intense action will not spare anyone’s collar from leaving their shirts, that’s for sure.
But the one far-too-well-kept secret of the tailoring trade has got to be Frank Shattuck, so frankly, even I want to see what he has to say, and that Matt has an interaction with him.
IMHO a situation like that is/should have been unacceptable to Moore who certainly was known to be a clothes horse . Any suit jacket can bunch up while sitting in an awkward position however I have never had that problem with a reasonably good RTW suit let alone a MTM jacket. He may have tolerated it because of the ‘chummy’ nature of their relationship but at one point there is a limit especially if others complained of the same issue!
This is something I’ve long noticed in my viewing of the (early) Moore films, so this is a fascinating subject for me. A well thought out and written article.
M’s line about “humiliated tailors” finally makes sens. Was Tom Mankiewicz having fun at Roger’s expense?
I always felt that despite the obvious 70s details, Angelo Roma’s suits fit Sir Roger better.
Considering that Roger Moore was a connoisseur and a man who cared very much about his clothes, i not understand why he insisted so long to use Cyril Castle,instead of changing tailor.
Let’s watch the truth; Castle’s suits were not this great thing,even in 60s (ok for the fashion trends,but the ultra skinny lapels juxtapose to the broad shoulders were grotesque on Moore).
I think that Roger Moore would have looked better with….to say…Antony Sinclair’s or Dimi Major’s suits.
Yeah I’m generally a fan of slim (not super skinny) lapels but bearing in mind the rule of thumb that lapels should be approx one third the distance from the jacket front to the shoulder. In recent years they’ve showed episodes of The Saint for several months in America and I got to see so many for the first time as I was too young when they were originally shown when I was a kid in England.
Particularly in the earlier (black and white) serieses there just seems to be waaaay too much space between the edge of Roger’s very skinny lapels and the edge of his broad shoulder. Even though my preference leans towards slim lapels this style looks incongruent. (Of course if you fast forward ten years he went too far in the opposite direction!!)
I always wondered why Moore’s Bond outfits went violently downhill beginning with The Spy who Loved Me and now I know why. After watching the Bond movies for 30 years and never noticing this, it’s interesting to see this pointed out, and it is a genuine tailoring flaw. However… if I had to trade a scrunched up back collar when I’m slouching in an awkward position for ANY of the post Golden Gun suits, I’d take the LaLD and MwtGG suits any day of the week and twice on Sundays. The formal/business wear from the first Moore Bond films are some of the only suits in all of 70s cinema that look good today. And whether it breaks the rules or not, the luxurious amount of exposed shirt collar looks quite jaunty. Overall, the suits from Moore’s first two Bonds found some way to take all the 1970s stylistic “musts”–wide lapels, snug tailoring, flaired everything–and found a way to link them back to more successful eras that incorporated similar elements (the 30s, the 50s). The Spy Who Loved Me ensembles have a few nice details but aside from his black tux, SwLM is the first Moore Bond with homely-to-ugly 70s-blah tailoring. Moonraker, inching toward the 80s, is less ugly but even more blah. Moore’s 80s attire, while not campy like his 70s gear, is just dead–no joy, no panache, nothing–it’s like he went to the front window of the men’s shop at a mid-level mall in Jacksonville, Florida in 1981, and said, I’ll take one of everything.