Today I’m going to share some of my notes that I made in preparation for my appearance on The Bond Experience Skyfall Live Stream. It’s always a pleasure to be invited on David’s channel, and for this I managed to get over my imposter syndrome and chat with the guys for an hour or so, breaking down the key style elements of Skyfall.
Luckily there was a book at hand that helped me immensely. Oh what’s it called, oh yes – From Tailors With Love an Evolution of Menswear Through the Bond Films available on Amazon.
As well my own book, co-authored by Matt Spaiser of Bond Suits, I also had a welter of touch points on my blog, mostly thanks to Daniel Gaster who has chronicled his own James Bond style journey. Daniel has written countless user reviews on the brands worn by James Bond in Skyfall.
The Grey Pre-Titles Suit
I often think with costumes and suits, ‘why have they gone for that colour in this scene’? More so colour than fabric or cut. Here in the pre-titles we see Bond in a grey pick and pick suit. Why not Navy? Because it’s crucial that the audience knows he’s been shot. (The special bullet is integral later in finding Patrice). A grey suit will show the blood for the audience more than a navy suit. I love how Bond looks so pissed off when he checks his wound on the train chase. He can’t believe that someone had the audacity to shoot him.
Further thoughts on grey suits
I’ve never found a woman that’s into either corduroy or a grey suit. But in Skyfall this is a great example of how to make a grey suit look interesting I think it looks great. You can do a lot with grey, and if you want to see grey done well check out Django Unchained and Christoph Waltz. Costume Designer talks in the Blu Ray DVD commentary on how,
‘Christoph can really wear clothes, he can handle anything’.
Getting back to Skyfall and the TOM FORD pre-titles suit. Matt Spaiser of Bond Suits describes it as Black and White pick and pick, 3 button but rolls down through the top button, not quite to the second button like it does in Quantum of Solace. It’s the classic TOM FORD O’Connor suit. Sharkskin, it has texture. Costume designer Jany Temime also introduced James Bond to Tab collar shirts for the first time in the franchise.
The Peacoat Billy Reid
I went on a bit of a jag about the sustainability of Billy Reid. It came across a lot more interesting in my head but sadly, fell flat on the show. I sourced a lot of the intel from the marvellous book Fashionopolis – The Price of Fast Fashion & The Future of Clothes by Dana Thomas, available on Amazon. In short, here are the beats of the Billy Reid backstory.
William Reid the man, had a huge show on September 10th 2001, but then then September 11th happened. No one read reviews from the show which was put on at a great expense. No one bought clothes, and his backer withdrew a 10 million pledge shortly after. Billy Reid the brand after a promising start, lost everything.
They moved to Florence, in Alabama and became a lifestyle brand. The brand moved away from the wholesale business, became direct to consumer, an early pioneer of fashion companies adopting a vertical business approach.
Back in 2011, they started to look at growing cotton in their local community, going from seed to finished garment in the same town. And Florence has a deep seated textile tradition.
But when NAFTA came in all the cotton seeds were genetically modified. They were told as a company that they can’t grow cotton without pesticides. The bugs will eat it. But they did. They grew it, they had cotton picking parties they weeded by hand and they made it work. They sent it a mill in north Carolina to be spun into thrill and the owner said ‘I’ve never seen such clean cotton’.
The Suit for the Tennyson chase sequence
The jacket looks a little short. It’s a grey charcoal roped striped suit. I like the fact that he gets to do a lot in this suit. It’s an office suit, but also an action suit, and as much as we like seeing Bond in the field with a duster or a Harrington, I like it that he has been caught off guard and sprang into action. No time to change, its on baby! But it’s also not a remarkable suit. Like the grey sharkskin one, it’s not something that detracts from the action.
He is elegant, he looks the business, but I’ll be honest, until I sat and down and did some notes for this, I’ve not thought twice about that suit.
I’ve thought twice about the Tennyson poem, I’ve thought twice about the Aston Martin DB5 that Bond later escapes with M to Scotland in, but that’s it. That’s also a mark of good costume design, to serve the story and not detract from the action.
The Tuxedo for an evening in the Macau Casino
Midnight blue was very much in during the 1930s because no one wanted to be mistaken for the maitre’d. (Who wore black) Even George Lazenby got mistaken for the maitre’d at some point during his time as Bond. So that become the progenitor for midnight blue with ready to wear brands, J Crew, Brooks Brothers to name a few, all started doing these. Everyone was getting married in midnight blue.
Barbour x To Ki To
This Barbour jacket is indivisible from Bond. It’s hard to see that jacket, without seeing it on Bond and thinking of the penultimate act of Skyfall. It’s fitted perfectly. I see that jacket in London a fair bit. Bond (or the costume team) have customised it such that it it almost looks like a dishevelled suit jacket. It’s so fitted, without the zip hood and the extra paraphernalia.
As Bond drives to Skyfall lodge in his TOM FORD suit, we can only presume this was his father’s jacket, waiting for him there in storage.
Referencing our book
Costume designer Jany Temime had images of Sean Connery on the mood boards. Daniel Craig mentioned that the tone and style elements of Goldfinger was a baseline for the film Skyfall. I think that too, certainly in some references to the ejector seat, the grey suit, but also the film is very direct, it’s a nuts and bolts film. It sits on its own in the franchise, it doesn’t feel the need to weave previous plots or character arcs. It doesn’t have any baggage.
Also its like a good pop song, the key to a good pop song is the song goes where your ear wants it to go. This mirrors that I think, the story and the journey of Bond goes where it wants you to go. My only caveat to that is that I think it’s too early in his tenure to say he’s lost a step, I mean he’s early 40s.
Catch the full debate on the key style elements of Skyfall in the video below.