The 16th-century Dutch theologian Desiderius Erasmus famously proclaimed “Clothes make the man.” This is categorically true of James Bond, Ian Fleming’s swashbuckling secret agent, whose costumes through the years — from the Savile Row suits worn by Sean Connery in “Dr. No” and “Diamonds Are Forever” to Pierce Brosnan’s dapper duds courtesy of Italian couture label Brioni in “Tomorrow Never Dies” and “The World Is Not Enough” — have come to personify the British spy as much as his proclivity for glamorous women, Aston Martins and death-defying shoot-outs.
Fleming, in fact, altered the face of spy attire forever. Before the British author put Bond in a navy blue single-breasted suit with a four-in-hand knotted tie, spies were walking around in long trench coats and wide-brimmed hats. So 007 is nothing short of a style icon.
Daniel Craig, who first stepped into the iconic character in the 2006 film “Casino Royale” and whose Bond swan song takes the form of the hotly anticipated October release “No Time to Die,” helmed by Cary Joji Fukunaga, has long favored American fashion designer-cum-filmmaker Tom Ford as his go-to clothier. Sample Ford looks making a stellar impression: Bond’s ivory tuxedo jacket with red carnation and crisp white shirt in 2015’s “Spectre” and his dark blue dinner suit in 2012’s “Skyfall.” Award-winning French-born costume designer Jany Temime worked on both Bond films.
For Emmy Award-winning costume designer Suttirat Anne Larlarb, charged with outfitting Craig in “No Time to Die,” Bond’s sartorial legacy is not one to be taken lightly. The Bond movies are, after all, the world’s longest-running film franchise, and given the scope of characters and the logistical challenges of managing hundreds of outfits — many of which are repeats used for different scenes — costuming a Bond film requires substantial creative and organizational mettle.
“The [‘Skyfall’] tux is probably the most iconic of the James Bond wardrobe looks,” says Larlarb, who has worked on such other films as “Slumdog Millionaire,” “127 Hours” and “Steve Jobs.”
She notes, “You have weight on your shoulders as a designer for Bond.”
Because the clothing is a veritable extension of the character one is playing, working closely in tandem with high-end fashion labels, as well as the actors and director is key to pulling it all off, Larlarb says.
“With the character of James Bond, everybody expects him to be the sharpest dressed man on the planet, and there’s an association with certain brands that comes with that,” she says. “There’s a whole host of collaborations.”
When it came to wardrobe choices, there was no partnership more important, notes Larlarb, than the one she had with Craig.
“We had so many conversations to make sure that Bond felt like he was moving forward with enough of a vocabulary that’s been established in his previous iterations of Bond, but also touching on the Bond legacy, in general, and moving it into the future,” she says.
At one point in “No Time to Die,” Bond has entered retirement. No longer in Her Majesty’s Secret Service, dinner jackets and tuxedos make way for more casual Bond fare. But what said apparel lacks in formality, it sacrifices none in terms of upscale, luxury leisure wear. Case in point: the desert-hued corduroy Massimo Alba suit Craig dons in the film, a blue button-down worn underneath, is not unlike something a math professor at Harvard might wear to teach class.
“We did talk about him needing to feel like a completely different kind of Bond,” says Larlarb. “A Bond that you don’t recognize, a Bond that doesn’t necessarily dress in the expected way, all perfectly suited, perfectly tailored. There needed to be a relaxed feel about him. He needed to be embedded in his environment, but he also still needed to stand out. So, you have these two opposing forces.”
Of course, what makes Larlarb’s job easier is the fact “everything you put on Daniel, he wears really well.”
“We just needed to find the things that you wouldn’t necessarily expect Bond to wear in his London life, or in his international field life,” she says of 007’s off-duty looks, all of which convey an air of sophisticated effortless cool.
“Everything he owned we wanted it to feel like it wasn’t thought about, that he had to his core an intuition about style, though he doesn’t think about it too much. It’s just there,” says Larlarb. “We liked the idea of a silhouette, so that you’re not distracted by patterns and shapes and design details. He feels like a silhouette … but still fitting to show off that wonderful physique. I hope this is something special.”