“When I went to see him (Tom) once he said to you should have come here yesterday, Tim. I was jumping off stuff.” – Timothy Everest MBE.
Mission Impossible (1996)
Listen to the style discussion on Mission Impossible (1996) with Sir Timothy Everest & Matt Spaiser. The film directed by Brian De Palma credits both Penny Rose and Timothy Everest as costume designers. The podcast is available to listen on iTunes, Stitcher or Spotify or in the player below. You can also catch our chat on YouTube. Some moments from the interview are loosely transcribed below.
PB: Do you have any memories of how you got enlisted to work on Mission Impossible?
TE: Yes, I can’t believe it’s such a long time ago. But it was really in the infancy of my business, Timothy Everest when we were in Spitalfields. I think we were getting a bit of notoriety. I had historically been styling, worked on films, and mainly actually TV commercials and promos for MTV. So I kind of had this understanding of how it worked.
And I got a phone call from David Bradshaw, who was the editor historically of ARENA magazine and worked on The Face. He recommended me for some tailoring for the film with Penny Rose.
They basically put me up, they were having issues with the fit. And being the young hotshot tailor, I think I was called in for the fall guy. If it worked. Well done, pat on the back, if it didn’t we can we can blame you.
PB: Which suits and which clothes did you make for Mission Impossible?
TE: Yeah, it was it was two specific blocks. So I can’t remember who was making the clothes. It was either Prada or Donna Karan but there was nothing wrong.* The garments were really nice. It’s just he’d (Cruise) had worked out since they had fitted them. Tom was very developed through the shoulders. So they were garments that you couldn’t actually adjust because they’d been made probably pre-his sort of workout regime. So the first thing was actually to fit him.
We got around that which was pretty good. And there were two sort of main things. There was the tuxedos that we did, which was seen in Prague. We made suits for that and for a few other characters, but mainly for him.
And then there’s the chalk stripe where we had the we did the tone on tone ties, which was sort of pale blue, pale blue silk tie with a pale blue shirts, and then we did the very subtle grey striped suit for him. I believe that was a coat we made for him as well. But those were the key looks that we did.
MS: But also with the the chalk stripe suit, it just it looks so British. Which is which is a little surprising for the character. It’s a three button suit. That was something that was very trendy at the time. Was it not?
TE: Yeah, it was we were trying to keep it contemporary and also a nod to the original series. And yeah, it was quite British. That’s, that’s a good observation, which is something they wanted when we were talking through and I guess it’s kind of what we were doing at the time. That’s why, when we previously spoke about The Man from UNCLE and we’ve spoken about James Bond, I had been brought up on those movies.
I guess they influenced the beginning of Timothy Everest because a lot of the silhouettes that were out at the time, which funny enough, we’re doing now, which are looser and with more drape.
I guess, started by Giorgio Armani with that kind of deconstructing matinee idol kind of look. We felt that things should be a bit more structured and a little bit more tailored to express what we thought British tailoring was about. So yeah, it was on trend at the time, but it kind of suited the character as well.
MS: Also, did you do the the white and the black dinner jackets? Those have the low buttoning double breasted that was also very much of its time.
TE: Yeah, that was kind of interesting. We were agreed to do that for Tom. But we were also involved in some of the tuxedos for the general scene. We made a load of single breasted and they were delivered. They were going off to shoot in Prague and wardrobe was told that they had to make sure they’re all double breasted or more double breasted.
So poor old Penny Rose was running around literally the night before to get more for the scene. They managed to get it all together. But that’s again, the joys of film production. Things can get changed very quickly. Yeah, but double breasted was something we were doing at the time as well.
PB: Was this your first foray in film world?
TE: Yeah, it was it was a big deal. I can still remember going out to Pinewood. And we kept going and getting called to come and and then canceled halfway there. So the last time we got called, we just kept going with the car. I said this is ridiculous, we’re never going to get anything done. So we turn up, and we’re by the different dressing rooms. Tom was rehearsing his lines outside and he kept coming past I’ve never met him before. So I was with a colleague. I said, what we should do is just stand diagonally in the corridor, so to the door to his changing room. And hopefully he’ll walk in there, and then we’ll have a dressing room. And maybe we can fit him.
That’s exactly what he did. And he said, “Oh, well, you’ve come to see me do you want to come in”.
And that’s how it all started. That was our first foray. From that I went on to do Mission Impossible 2 with him. And then we worked on Eyes Wide Shut. We even ended up going down to the Oscars with him and Nicole because I dressed him for that.
PB: During the fitting, was he asking for anything in particular that you remember?
TE: I think they very much went along with what we were suggesting. I remember when I was in Los Angeles, I said to Tom, what do you think? And he said, Well, what do you think, Tim? I said you look very good. And he said well I look very good. That made me happy because that was my job. Quite often people don’t know and they don’t go with what you think and it can get quite complicated.
MS: People often noticed that Tom Cruise is trying very hard to look taller than he is. Is this something that came up in your work with tailoring him?
TE: It’s quite funny. When you meet a lot of these people, they’re actually very fantastic to deal with. They’re very professional and actually very nice. And I was warned by or told by one of his entourage before, you know, when you meet Tom. There were three things three things not to talk about. And one of them was height. And the first thing Tom said, ‘Well, I’m not particularly tall, so please help me’. So that’s quite funny.
They’re more sensitive than him. Tom’s probably typical of most leading artists, musicians, actors, that the camera doesn’t particularly like very tall people.
TE: It’s about playing around the proportion. We’ve probably elevated the natural waist a little bit higher, so that the jacket can be a bit shorter, but not look out of balance. And then we can make his legs look longer, and him generally look taller. Then leave the camera to position to pan up and to make sure if someone told him not to be standing in mainframe with him and so on. I know people out there, they’re very creative in the way that they can work around that. But he is not as short as people think he is.
PB: So just clean lines, no ticket pockets etc?
TE: Not so not so much ticket pocket but the pinstripe helps. Also, it was a three button but a bit lower than it would normally be. And again, giving the middle button would give him an accentuation in the waist which was pretty good. And then we gave him quite a slim trouser.
I noticed now he’s still in great shape. He’s a little bit leaner nowadays. He was quite muscular at the time and particularly on his thighs as well. So trying to get that right shape and around the calf as well. Which was it was quite important.
PB: Can you remember anything about the fabrics of the suits?
TE: I’m pretty sure it was a flannel from Holland and Sherry, which they would have commissioned. They’re a cloth converter that supply a lot of tailors on Savile Row around the world and the fabric, they would have sourced from a mill in Huddersfield. The shirtings were from Acorn which is up in the north. The cotton probably they would have sourced that from Italy.
The silk ties were woven by Vanners in Sudbury, and then they were made by them as well for us. The barathea for the dinner jackets were probably Smith and Sons, which is now part of the Lear Brown & Dunsford. They have a very, very good classic bunch. We wanted to use Barathea with proper silk facings. So all British fabrics, which was good.
The train suit was sold at Prop Store auction for £1495.
PB: And Timothy now you’re under Grey Flannel on Chiltern Street working out of MBE Studios is that right?
TE: We own Grey Flannel now. So it’s basically a nice mixture. Historically, they were a fantastic business that was known for colour individuality, I think more casual, elegant clothing. We have this kind of reset in the wardrobe at the moment. For people who want to be comfortable but want to be elegant.
In fact, we’re making more suits, and probably ever but they’re more for wearing out rather than going to the office. For everyday wear we have the knitwear, the washed cotton. So yeah, if anyone’s around coming, we make a great cup of tea. And if you ask nicely, I’m sure there’s something chilled and fizzy in the fridge as well.
* According to the book Savile Row, The Master Tailors of Savile Row by James Sherwood, Tom Cruise had to turn to bespoke because the Donna Karan off-the-peg pieces he was given were twisting on the shoulder.
Costume Information from IMDB.
The Mission Impossible 6 Movie Blu Ray Box Set is available on Amazon. We watch that on a loop in our house. I’ve always been tempted to get the original TV series on Blu Ray. Maybe some day.