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March 14, 2008

Not Saville Row

The Times of London reports James Bond has changed his tailor. Brioni is reportedly to be replaced by Tom Ford . We can debate the choice - and I do - but I expect Flea-readers will turn to canon for judgment. The Times cites Nick Foulkes, co-author of Bond "style bible" Dressed To Kill, Fleming never tells us who tailors Bond's suits even as Bond himself takes time to consider his enemies' sartorial choices.

For example, in Goldfinger, we have Mr Du Pont “dressed in he conventional disguise in which Brooks Brothers cover the shame of American millionaires”. He himself is a study in anonymity and mystique. The best we get is a “dark-blue single-breasted suit, white shirt, thin black knitted tie, black casuals” (The Man With The Golden Gun) and that is as descriptive as it gets. Bond, writes Foulkes, is “able to take a morally superior stance when faced with excessive dandyism”.

As opposed to what... insufficient dandyism? Luxist claims Tom Ford is "a bit too metro than James Bond" but, frankly, it would be difficult to exceed Pierce Brosnan for metro in Brioni. Ian Fleming himself "dressed for comfort not for style" purchasing his suits just off Saville Row at Benson, Perry and Whitley of 9 Cork Street, W1. Sadly for purists the establishment appears to have gone out of business.

For Bond, Fleming chose an anonymous, pared-down version of his own wardrobe but in the novels the identity of Bond's tailor was always a well kept secret. Although Savile Row is hinted at (and specifically mentioned in Fleming's 1964 article 007 and Me) we never learn any of the details of who makes his clothes or in what style they are cut. Over 14 books virtually all we can glean is that Bond's suits and evening wear are lightweight and single-breasted; we are told some of the materials and colours (always navy serge for the regular suits or houndstooth check for more casual occasions) but we never learn how many buttons his jacket has or whether his trousers have turn-ups.

My suggestion: Gieves & Hawkes at No, 1 Saville Row; excellent tailoring, economical off the peg and offering a millitary collection. Right up Bond's street, in other words. Flea-readers wishing to consider suits and related matters in detail might consider The Bond Lifestyle. It is a bit short on polymathory and killing folk who need killin' but has plenty to offer brandwise.

Posted by Ghost of a flea at March 14, 2008 07:04 AM