Article by Eisuke – Inspired by Bond.

It’s a luxurious Bond lifestyle moment and undeniably one of the highlight moments of the film.

– Eisuke

Surprised?

I was pleasantly surprised when I heard Raccoon007, who many readers may know through his Goldeneye wardrobe endeavour, to hear that he inquired to Brioni about a particular Daniel Craig garment. That was the fancy-striped shirt that he wears on the train in Montenegro.

Considering the fact that Brosnan’s Bond was almost exclusively dressed in solid shirtings, it’s a rather sudden departure into something almost uncharacteristic. It’s part of a look that’s pointed out by another character, a rare occurrence in the franchise, so it is an important part of Bond fashion lore nonetheless.

Craig Brioni Shirt

The Man from Hong Kong

But before that, there were a few things we figured out extensively about Brioni’s shirts. The first time we properly witness Brioni shirts is in Die Another Day, when we see Bond’s tailor in Hong Kong (the one he also mentions in Diamonds are Forever) generously whip up some fresh shirts in their Brioni packaging on the hotel bed.

We are all led to believe at this point that Bond wears Brioni shirts from this point on, until his temporary return to London where he has a chance to visit his usual shirtmaker, Turnbull and Asser. It’s a luxurious Bond lifestyle moment and undeniably one of the highlight moments of the film.

Question

It’s not the first time Raccoon has commissioned a Brioni bespoke shirt, but this time we took a little bit more attention. Would a Brioni customer be able to replicate the exact Brosnan “Bond lifestyle” moment by obtaining a Brioni shirt? The answer is no, and here’s why.

On display

Upon close inspection of this scene, we see two Brioni shirts wrapped in a transparent, branded plastic with the words “Brioni” on the bottom right. We see the boxes tilted towards the viewer’s direction, so the words are even more visible to the audience.

They are inside a white, rectangular box with a label on the side. There are a total of eight shirts, three unopened on the table with the champagne, another four unopened on the bed by the pillow, and one opened and next to the linen suit he later sports.

But wait

But we noticed one thing – why aren’t Raccoon’s shirts like this? The shirt he ordered this time came in an almost identical white rectangular box, but in a branded paper packaging instead of the transparent plastic. While it’s a nit-picky detail, we can obsess over these things and still learn a thing or two. So went to confirm with Brioni about the distinction they make in packaging, and whether this “transparent branded packaging” is actually a thing or not. This is their response.

“The difference between ready-to-wear and bespoke today is whether the customer’s name is on the box or not, and there is no difference in between how these two are wrapped. Knitwear items and denim come wrapped from the factory in transparent plastic, but Brioni staff remove this packaging before presenting these items to the guests. And for your reference, this plastic wrapping does not come with our logo.”

Assumptions

So we can assume either one of two possibilities:

  1. This was special branded packaging Brioni prepared to maximize this “Buy Another Day” moment in the film.
  1. It was a feature Brioni had with their packaging in the past, but decided to discontinue at one point in between 2002-today.

Raccoon had previously seen the kind of packaging we see in the film when he was hunting for a Brioni shirt on an online auction, but in his case there were no captions under the logo. Given Brioni’s information, he speculates the truth leans towards Option 1 (though Option 2 is equally believable).

Only Bespoke

And it’s not just the packaging. Apparently Brosnan’s shirts were made entirely bespoke, from scratch by Brioni under specific instructions on measurements and proportions, a courtesy that no typical individual guest is ever granted.

This means the shirt collar Brosnan wears has no direct name, making it a complete original. Appearance-wise, Brioni told us that it is closest to their “Max” collar, a modestly scaled spread collar with a slight curve on the leaf. Just lengthen the collar points slightly, and widen the spread, and you have his collar.

Conclusion

So as far as the packaging and display is concerned, we can sum up the following conclusion. Pierce Brosnan’s Brioni shirts, made entirely bespoke, are wrapped in a custom made transparent plastic branded wrapping (possibly made specifically for the film) to illustrate to the viewer in the short moment that the boxes contain Brioni shirts.

Now that’s a mouthful.

The History

So back to the Craig shirt. Brioni’s history with shirts are most associated with the Northern Italian shirt manufacturer Burini of Bergamo, once known for their precision in machine work and excellent fabrics. Burini became part of Brioni in 1991, and all Brioni shirts are made under their factory to this day. Just look up their shirts online, and you’ll find just how dead-serious they are about shirtmaking and stitching. It’s the most precise make I’ve literally ever seen on a machine-made shirt.

The ethos of a Burini shirt is still strong and running on a Brioni shirt today, with top-quality fabrics (their factory was close to the shirting merchant Alumo) and state-of-the-art machine-made shirts. Just like Turnbull & Asser, the idea of people guiding machines are the same – however the attitude towards shirtmaking divides the two nations.

Putting sexy back

In my opinion, the Italian shirt values precision, softness, and the artistic value that forms a “perfect” shirt, so things like how dense the stitch count is, how sexy the cloth is, and how passable it is as a fashion piece alone. The traditional British shirt, on the other hand, values consistency and class – so things like heritage, unchanged methods, and how the piece functions as a subtle but essential cornerstone in the wardrobe. Who knew Sunspel was a thing since 1860?

(Naturally no brand works one or the other in the red ocean of shirt brands today, but whenever a British brand takes sexiness as a value, it’s usually some form of continental capital behind the brand).

The special one

So along with Die Another Day, Casino Royale is an interesting Bond film in the perspective that we see Bond wear both distinctively British and Italian shirts at the same time. This is the latter.

As noted in the previous Brioni shirt article, Brioni has a number of collars that vary ever so slightly that you can choose from your ideal shirt collar shape. However for the more “prominent” customers, like EON, Brioni lends the extra courtesy of bespeaking a special collar just for the individual. This is the case behind the shirts worn by Pierce Brosnan, where we can find something close, but no exact name or match given the collar’s originality. Complete bespoke is unavailable to the general public, so we just have to roll with what’s close.

The Dino

The “Dino” collar, what we originally thought was close to Brosnan’s.

Daniel Craig’s shirts worn in Casino Royale was also a bespoke model made just for the production, but in this case Brioni confirmed this collar was a custom made model based on their “Clark” collar. So they do both, making one from scratch, but also one based on what’s already in the catalogue.

Collar detail

It may be a familiar concept for Turnbull & Asser customers. For instance, heightening the back of the Prince of Wales collar. Elongating the points of the Regent collar. Using the band of the Classic T&A, but using a different collar elsewhere. A similar approach was probably taken here by the costume department as she (Lindy Hemming) approached Craig’s collar, probably using the Clark as a base and customizing it to their will.

Read the full interview with Lindy Hemming in the book From Tailors with Love: An Evolution of Menswear Through the Bond Films.

The collar has a height of 4cm, point length of 8cm, and a spread of 12.5cm. So bridging between a semi-spread and a point collar, that looks good on almost anyone. I’d assume the collar is just slightly heightened for Craig’s original. As of this shirt, since we couldn’t replicate the customized Clark model, we just went with the original collar source. It’s close enough, and there’s still plenty of the Bond glimmer.

Stripes

The shirt fabric is a first for Bond, being a fancy white on white stripe. We weren’t able to find an exact match, however we came very close to Craig’s original in terms of the pattern, which was essentially the same but the stripe density inverted.

Corporate look

It’s a fabric from their “La Camicia” bunch, which appears to be a sheer, high twist cotton (almost voile-esque) on the base, with a very narrow stripe framed by a track stripe made of a steep twill. The nature of the steep twill makes the framed stripe appear to have an almost zig-zag look. It would have been a bit too “matchy-matchy” if this was paired with the “Bond, James Bond” suit, which is also a track stripe, but in this outfit it subtly brings out the narrow pinstripe of Craig’s suit for a harmonious, yet undeniably corporate look.

Brioni shirt fabric

It’s Tailored

Very little is revealed of the Brioni shirts in this film, and they never come to the centre of attention. The Turnbull & Asser shirts receive the most screen time, and much is discussed on how the shirt worn with his dinner jacket was a specifically made collar model for his deep dinner jacket opening. A Very English Institution on Instagram also pointed out that Craig even had two patterns for his Turnbull & Asser shirts, “one for stunts/fighting and one for the regular scenes.” Much of the details, along with the fitting we settled on for this shirt come from the brief “It’s Tailored” moment, which isn’t even this shirt. But that’s the closest source we had to base our speculations on.

Cuffs

For the cuff, we went with the Cuff GR model, which is the same choice we made for the other Brosnan double cuff shirts too. The edge of the fold-back portion is slightly rounded, which is a feature we see when Craig de-cocks his gun on the car at a later scene. There is a gauntlet button, as we’d assume there probably is. The cuff height is 7cm, and there is 6mm stitching from the edge all around the shirt.

Constant replay

The back was the most difficult to discern. We rewound the “It’s Tailored” moment a hundred times plus to discern that there may be no detailing at all on the back – so no shoulder pleats or darts. However the completed product came with shoulder pleats, like the one before.

brioni striped shirt

Maybe?

Or are there shoulder pleats? I’m a bit confused.

Return

Immediately after noticing this error, Raccoon sent it back to Brioni, and they instead replaced it with the “no details on the back” version instead.

They even sent it to Raccoon in an “old version” box, which is a cream coloured box with a logo on top. Thanks to Brioni’s cooperation, we can assume this box is the closest to what we see in Brosnan’s hotel room. Just without the lid.

Brioni box

Comparison

Compared with a typical Turnbull shirt, A Very English Institution commented that,

“it appears that the armholes are cut much higher,”

which is also observed in this brief moment of the film. That’s why we assumed there were no darts that take the back in, and since the Brioni suits have no “action time” we believe there is only one kind of fitting, which is something like this. Gently hugging a muscular body.

Placket

Trust me, we watched this scene hundreds of times. A brief glimpse here shows the shirt has a front placket, and that’s accurately incorporated into the shirt.

Brioni shirt jacket

Like before, the placket is 3.5cm with 6mm stitching from the edge. On a striped shirt like this, the stitching row blends into the stripes, making it hardly visible. The stitching is centred in between the track stripe, and the buttonhole aligns with the track stripe in the middle. It’s tremendously pleasing aesthetically as a result.

Brioni shirt striped flatlay

Pattern

I’m also a fan of how they matched the pattern on the shoulders, aligning perfectly to the sleeve.

Brioni shoulder striped shirt

Brioni button mother of pearl

Gusset

Here’s the gusset. It shares the same hexagonal shape seen on Raccoon’s previous shirts, contrasting from the pentagonal shape seen on Turnbull & Asser shirts. It’s made in the same fabric, with the stripes running diagonally.

Brioni shirt gusset

Fused

The collar is fused, at a tasteful thickness. The nature of the fused lining allows the collar to bend throughout the course of the day, curving to match the jacket or whatever it’s tucked underneath. With a tie, it keeps the look crisp and formal. The buttons are branded like before, in gold Brioni lettering on the side. It’s a subtle way to make the shirts special.

Brioni branded button

Still to come

Overall, it’s a distinct look that is a far cry from what we usually expect to see Bond in – plain, solid poplin shirtings (that is unless we’re talking about Goldfinger or Moore’s Bond exclusively). But a meticulously crafted shirt that successfully captures the Daniel Craig essence in the film. For the reasons on why Bond made this particular style choice, we’re planning to go into that later in much detail. Watch this space!

Credits

Article by contributing editor Eisuke Ochiai. Follow him on Instagram. Follow Raccoon on Instagram here. Images sourced from Die Another Day and Casino Royale used here under the fair use doctrine. Profile photo sourced from ThunderBalls.Org