Bond. James Bond. And the Suit of James Bond.
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because looking this good can’t be that bad.
By Eugene S. Robinson
At this point, it fundamentally makes absolutely no difference that the Scottish actor and éminence grise Sean Connery hated the role that got him out of a potential future of bodybuilding shows and truck driving. Hated it and purportedly hated the suit that went with it, which, if the stories are to be believed, he had to sleep in for a month so that he looked sufficiently natural when it came time to hear “Rolling, action.”
Yup, no difference — because at this point Daniel Craig, Pierce Brosnan, Roger Moore and George Lazenby (from best to worst, performance wise) have clouded the franchise, making Connery a trivia question, or an afterthought, for some. Not in a bad way, or in a way that you think he’d disagree with, but with different looks and takes over the intervening years, the cultural memory for the Kennedy-era Bond played by Connery has been displaced by his other marquee roles.
No matter how old you are and what happens to the role next, it won’t easily erase the first arresting glimpse of The Man in the Suit.
But no matter how old you are and what happens to the role next (Idris Elba has cooled rumors that he is the next Bond, post-Craig), we won’t easily erase the first arresting glimpse of The Man in the Suit. And for those of us with an eye for fashion? Well, just the suit.
Specifically: in his first screen appearance in the first Bond flick, 1962’s Dr. No , sporting a tuxedo made by Brit tailor Anthony Sinclair .
The same Anthony Sinclair, who died in 1986 but whose company lives on, did almost all of the Bond apparel up until then. Which earned the suit the wonderful tag of “The Conduit Cut” because of the styling’s genesis in Sinclair’s shop on Conduit Street in Mayfair.
Connery slept in the suits for a month before filming, since wearing them like he owned them was the sine qua non of inhabiting the spirit of the role.
The suit itself, and all of the ones worn by Connery, were marked departures from what constituted Savile Row style of the day. Which was heavy and stiff. Sinclair — along with Bond creator, author and former agent Ian Fleming (for whom the Bond books emerged initially as post-service therapy) — broke away from the standard and emerged with a suit that was soft, durable, lightweight and stylish as all get-out. Precisely fitting a man of action.
And Connery, completely unused to such finery and initially thought of by both producer Cubby Broccoli and Fleming as the wrong man for the role (they originally wanted Cary Grant), was tutored through it all, including the aformentioned suit sleeping, by Dr. No director Terence Young. Possibly apocryphal but delicious nonetheless: Young having Connery sleep in the suits for a month before filming, since wearing them like he owned them was the sine qua non of inhabiting the spirit of the role and the man called Bond — James Bond — was just the tip of a much cooler iceberg. According to Glenn Yeffeth, author of James Bond in the 21st Century: Why We Still Need 007, Young also tutored Connery “in the ways of being dapper, witty, and above all, cool.”
Which, when numbers are considered, seemed to work. Swimmingly even. Connery’s seven Bond outings were all commercially successful and, we’d like to think, even as the non-suit-wearing 1960s spooled out, that it was not despite the suits but because of them.
”Everything about Bond was great,” writer Timothy Ford once said. “But with the suits? Just a little bit more great. Like life.”