Actor and comedian Robbie Coltrane, who played ex-KGB agent and mafia boss Valentin Zukovsky in GoldenEye and The World Is Not Enough, died earlier this month at age 72. After he begins his second Bond films wearing a light taupe double-breasted dinner jacket, Valentin Zukovsky later wears an extravagant grey mohair three-piece dinner suit at his caviar factory, sadly ending with him and his dinner suit submerged in a vat of caviar.
Zukovsky’s dinner suit was made by Soho, London tailor Eddie Kerr, better known as Mr Eddie in conjunction with costume designer Lindy Hemming. Kerr’s son Chris Kerr later tailored actors for the Bond films and continues to tailor for film and television productions.
This dinner suit is made of a shiny mid-grey mohair, likely in a grey contrast to enhance the sheen. Dinner suits are traditionally made in black and midnight blue mohair, but this one in grey is appropriately flashier for a mafia boss who wants to show off. While this style would not be suitable for most people, it is perfect for this character.
The dinner jacket is otherwise styled in a traditional manner. It has a single-button front, a shawl collar, jetted pockets and no rear vent. There are three buttons on each cuff. The shawl collar widens slightly at the bottom, which is an old-fashioned way of cutting it that Tom Ford have now adopted for some of their dinner jackets. The shawl collar is faced in black silk satin, and the buttons are covered to match it.
The shoulders are lightly padded and extended to make his body look more balanced, but their slight droopiness makes him look less sharp than he should. The front of the jacket is cut with an extended dart, which is an old-fashioned way of cutting in London but still a common way of cutting in Naples, Italy. While this kind of cut in London was rarely used in the 1990s, it may have been done particularly for Coltrane’s corpulent build.
The double-breasted waistcoat is cut in a daytime style rather than an evening style. A dinner suit would traditionally have the latter. The daytime cut was likely chosen to help better frame Coltrane’s large build to give him more cloth in front. A dinner suit’s waistcoat traditionally has a lower opening that shows off more of the shirt. This waistcoat has a button four, show four (8×4) keystone configuration. It’s one of the most traditional configurations for a daytime double-breasted waistcoat along with a keystone button three, show three (6×3).
The button three, show three (6×3) and the button two, show two (4×2) are the most traditional styles for a double-breasted evening waistcoat. In an evening waistcoat the buttons have less vertical space between them to show off more chest. These more traditional styles, however, would have been less flattering on Coltrane.
Neither the waistcoat’s lapels nor the buttons are faced in black silk satin, and this helps the outfit look more elegant by eliminating contrasting elements in the waistcoat. The contrasting black elements are kept in the jacket’s lapels and buttons and in the trouser braid to make the whole suit look more focused and streamlined. The waistcoat’s buttons are instead in grey horn to match the cloth. There are four welt pockets on the waistcoat. The waistcoat is cut with a straight hem.
The dinner suit’s trousers have double forward pleats in the English tradition, and they are most likely held up with braces. The trousers are trimmed with black satin braids down the outseams to match the dinner jacket’s facings.
Zukovsky’s dress shirt has a semi-spread collar and double cuffs with a fancy front bib. The bib is made of a narrow white-on-white stripe with approximately 1/4-inch pleats sewn at 1-inch intervals. He wears the shirt with black onyx studs, showing two above the waistcoat’s opening, and matching black onyx cufflinks.
He wears a black silk satin thistle-shaped bow tie that is a tad small for his face. His shoes are black lace-ups.
The shirt is my favourite aspect of this outfit. Not everyone would look good in it with those distantly spaced pleats, but it works well for Coltrane.
Speaking of which, may he rest in peace. He always reminded my siblings and me of my late uncle, whom we loved very much. He was a sizeable part of my childhood being in both Bond and in Harry Potter.
God bless, Mr. Coltrane.
Okay so I thought the waistcoat having self lapels was odd. Why not just omit them for the reason you gave? Matter of fact, I would have had the dinner jacket’s buttons in grey horn too. Those elements not matching makes it look like an afterthought rather than part of a whole.
That’s a good idea. I would have put smoke mother of pearl buttons on the whole suit, this way the buttons are shiny but also match the cloth.
By Jove, I think you have it! I never considered using smoke MOP on a dinner suit, but that would look swell considering white dinner jackets traditionally use white MOP.
May he rest in peace. Great article man.
Very beautiful shirt and tie. RIP Robbie Coltrane.
Matt, how uncommon was the extended front dart was in the 90s; I found a few pieces made by respectable London tailors that have this charming feature (I confess a personal taste there). Most of them were made in during the latter half of that decade. I’m guessing it would depend on who cut what for whom?
They weren’t common at the time, but they were more common than they are now.