On the same day Raccoon went for the final fitting for his navy birdseye suit, (which I had the privilege to accompany) Raccoon also made an inquiry for the blazer that Pierce Brosnan briefly wears in GoldenEye.
This was not part of the project at first.
Though, apparently, soon after seeing me in my double-breasted blazer, he quickly changed his mind. At first, he’d associated the double-breasted blazer with the ‘90s, or it’s almost cosplay-ish formality – however (apparently) seeing me in mine, his thoughts quickly reverted and thought he needed one for himself. Now he believes it’s one of the best casual looks in the film. It makes me feel quite awkward writing this!
My James Bond blazer. Inspired by Inspired by Bond?
So what makes a “blazer”? In a nutshell two components, the buttons, and the fabric. It’s also noteworthy that this blazer marks the last time James Bond ever wore a navy blazer, which was a classic Bond item until the ‘80s. Brosnan’s one has a large appearance and is worn nonchalantly open, which is a fashionable way to wear the double-breasted jacket today.
By this time in the mid ’90s, the metal button blazer had the impression of a prep or a security guard (which we actually get to see in the following film, Tomorrow Never Dies), so it may have been Bond’s way of saying “the blazer is too old-mannish and stuffy for me today.”
And indeed, Brosnan looks badass here.
Which wouldn’t be the word to describe the other Bonds wearing theirs (which I could describe with words like “aplomb” and “elegance”). The buttons, as far as the film goes, appear in a few blink-and-miss moments. It’s a shanked button, meaning it’s sewn onto the jacket with a small loop behind the button.
95% of the blazers out there today have this kind of button, as opposed to the less orthodox sew-through type, which is commonplace on suits and sportcoats but rarely seen in metal. This type of button has the advantage above shanked buttons that it doesn’t drag down, and always faces up.
Learn more about the relationship between Brioni and James Bond in the book From Tailors With Love: An Evolution of Menswear Through the Bond Films, available on Amazon.
This is the only blazer that Bond wears where the button is adorned with a motif. The three Connery blazers, Lazenby’s one, and Moore’s in The Man with the Golden Gun, For Your Eyes Only, and A View to a Kill all have shanked buttons but are all simple plain metal.
Such crests, like signet rings and club ties, are supposed to illustrate a personal significance, so in his case his experience in the Navy. Just out of curiosity, we asked them for their options of metal buttons. And out came this button box.
I could talk forever about these buttons (particularly the branded enamel-filled ones, they looked beautiful!) but to our surprise, we saw something identical to what was on screen. The Brioni clerk noted the button selection almost never changes in decades, and this particular one was in their collection since the ‘90s. So we were positive this was a perfect match. If there are no specifications by the customer, they use a matching corozo nut, but this selection is for those extra-specific customers.
So. This is the exact button used on Brosnan’s blazer, in all its glory.
Next, to the fabric. Blazers can be any kind of fabric – a woollen, a worsted, linen, cotton, cashmere, alpaca, whatever. But the general rule of thumb is “it should make sense as a stand-alone piece.” Which narrows it down to very few finishes and fabrics.
Just out of interest, my blazer is made from a typical wool serge, based on the guidelines of the “(00)7 Essential Bond Sports Jackets to Own ” article on Bond Suits. It’s a 2×2 sturdy twill worsted with a heavy, almost coarse hand, which creates a sharp, crisp, and formal look. The fabric industry today, particularly in Italy, also produces something called “Italian serge” but with a 2×1 twill weave, making it pretty much just a twill weave worsted and more like a suit jacket.
Licence to Twill
This is more commonly known as prunelle, which is one of the most common fabrics for a standard worsted, but I’ve seen some fabric merchants call this “serge” nonetheless. This is of course driven by the trend to make everything as soft and light as possible, but this dilutes the charm a classic serge has. Unlike a more pronounced twill, like a cavalry twill, the surface interest comes from simple diagonal lines like a simple twill weave, so the weave itself needs to stand out as much as possible for a feasible jacketing serge.
Not the serges you’re looking for
Initially, we thought this Brosnan blazer was also a serge, so we were looking into the serge bunches. Unfortunately, most of Brioni’s serges were the aforementioned 2×1 weave “Italian serge” and not the kind we were looking for. We decided to wait on this, but also confirm with Brioni whether this was their jacket just in case (as we knew at least the trousers worn with the blazer weren’t Brioni.) A few days later, Brioni came back with a reply,
“Unfortunately the complete archive data for the clothes made for this film are unavailable and are lost in time. However, there is a record of a double-breasted jacket, made with a 250g hopsack material. Could this be it?”
Yes, it was! This was eye-opening information. This was a rare case since most fabrics for Brosnan’s suits were outsourced from British mills (Schofield and Smith for the navy birdseye, Roebuck & Co. for the Prince of Wales suit, William Halstead for the dinner jacket) and Brioni would not leave that information in their archives. As a matter of fact, it’s the auctions that clarified navy birdseye last time, not them!
The fact that this “250g hopsack material” data was still in their archives meant that this was fabric from Brioni, and not something costume designer Lindy Hemming sourced from a British mill. Even so, Brioni references their fabrics with reference numbers which change every season (like how Harrisons today change their reference numbers regularly for the same fabric), so even if the fabric was a Brioni original, it would be impossible to track down what the exact fabric was.
This must have been a memo on the order sheet, or a specific request that was written down for production. And since Brioni made very few double-breasted pieces for GoldenEye (the blazer, or the striped suit for promotion as far as we know) it pretty much narrowed down to the fact that the ”250g hopsack material” referred to this navy blazer.
Get to the chopper
Even down to a situational analysis, it makes sense. In this scene, we see Brosnan wipe his sweat after a brief fight on the boat, and a quick sprint to chase the helicopter gets his hair all loose. This implies the setting was boiling hot, and the hopsack material for the blazer would have made more sense than serge, providing evidence for his instant perspiration.
He could have been overheated by the seasonally inappropriate choice of serge, but it would be more sensible to think it was the temperature not doing him justice, and not the composition of his jacket. After all, Bond was wearing a flannel suit and a doeskin blazer in Jamaica back in Dr. No, so we’d expect him to be fine with inappropriate fabrics for the setting.
As opposed to serge, which is a variation of a twill weave, hopsack is in the basketweave family (along with matt weaves seen on Oxford shirting, etc.) which is a plain weave with more than a 2×2 warp and weft. Both of these are variants within plain weaves, which is a simple over-and-under structure.
This means the cloth has enough body to hold its shape, yet has plenty of space in the fabric to breathe, making it the ideal jacketing option for spring and summer humidity. Basketweaves come in all sorts of variations, like the No Time to Die Giubbino blouson by Connolly, or the sports jacket seen on Roger Moore in Live and Let Die.
Based on the scale, the density of the weave, or the twist of the yarn, hopsack can vary in multiple forms. Finer hopsacks have a clean appearance, at the risk of looking like a suit jacket with fancy buttons. Something coarser and pronounced, like what Roger Moore wears in Moonraker (see above) was the kind of hopsack we wanted to go for.
After a vigorous search through the fabric bunches, we found these four choices.
The first choice was from their “La Giacca” bunch (meaning “jacketing”), which was a deep, dark navy that was almost identical to the colour Roger Moore wore in The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker. The weight was 10g lighter at 240g, but pretty much spot on.
The only problem was that it was 100% cashmere.
This meant the touch was wonderful, but the body would be terrible at such a light weight and would not achieve the crisp look seen on Brosnan. Well at least it would for the first few wears, but in the long run, this was best avoided. Not that I have enough experience with cashmere to prove these points, but alas.
So we swiped to the left.
The second option, also from the “La Giacca” bunch, was a 100% wool hopsack in the same weight, 240g. The problem with this, however, was that it was a bit too light in colour. We are fortunate to see Brosnan’s blazer both indoors and outdoors, and even in indoor lighting, it was a bit too “blue” than “navy.”
So we made just a jump to the left.
The third option, again from the “La Giacca” bunch, was a hair heavier at 280g barely slipping into the mid-weight territory. The saturation of blue was perfect, and a nice, middle-of-the-road navy that couldn’t go wrong.
This was no ordinary hopsack either. This fabric has a special treatment named “Ventiquattro” (meaning 24 in Italian), which is a state-of-the-art anti-crease treatment achieved in Brioni’s own special way without having to add any synthetics to the fabric.
Since Brioni would indicate a high super count (like the birdseye suit, which was a Super 180s), this fabric would probably fall under a Super 110-130s level, which is still high but not excessively. Such a fabric would probably have been Bond’s choice had this high performance technology existed in the ‘90s.
4th Time is a charm
The fourth option was just as nice, though this time from the “FW20 La Giacca Stagionale” bunch. This was a seasonal choice that was not in their classic line and had a different, mottled appearance compared to the first three. At first, I thought this was a rib weave, which is a plain weave with crosswise ribs, like in poplin, grosgrain, repp, and faille. In this case I thought the warp yarns are twice as larger than the filling yarns (while still being an equal 1×1 weave), creating the diagonal rib effect.
However, when I confirmed with Matt Spaiser of Bond Suits, he said the 45-degree twill wale seemed off for it to qualify as a rib weave. The fact that the diagonal rib was present meant the fabric was a twill weave, so it could not have been a rib weave anyways. Sajid of Niven Tailors kindly relayed this question to the fabric merchant Woven in the Bone, who responded,
“it looks like a 2×2 plain or a common twill, but hard to say without seeing it closely.”
If anyone can chip in to resolve the mystery behind this weave, please let me know!
Either way, it wasn’t a hopsack for sure. Plus in person, the hue was slightly too strong and looked more like a rich, violet blue than navy. While this would have made a wonderful jacket as well, this did not meet our exact requirements to create the exact James Bond blazer seen on screen. So we went for the third option.
So, with the fabric selections made for the James Bond blazer, Raccoon went into the fitting process. Another fitting was required as a double-breasted jacket is made differently from a single-breasted jacket, and he was looking for a very particular fit. It’s never clear how the blazer fits closed but based on the striped suit, something that fit immaculately in the shoulders and arms but had a relaxed fit through the body.
From the side. Note the perfect buttoning point, meeting the elbow.
The next article will describe the details, and the overall outcome of the James Bond blazer. Stay tuned!