In Skyfall, Daniel Craig tells Moneypenny (played by Naomie Harris): “Well, I like to do some things the old-fashioned way.” Bond’s no-nonsense fashion choices – sharp tuxedos, unfussy beachwear and even leather driving gloves – have come to define elegant, alpha menswear. But in an era where sales of formalwear have been shaken (not stirred), can Mr Bond, in his latest outing, No Time to Die, achieve his most challenging mission yet and save the suit?
Last month it was revealed that Marks & Spencer had stopped stocking suits in more than half of their 245 largest stores. It was a timely business decision: sales of formalwear had fallen by 72% during the pandemic due to people working from home.
However, the release of No Time to Die on 30 September coincides with another workwear sea change. “As lockdown ended, there was an intense yearning to return to formal clothes,” says Prof Andrew Groves, director of the Westminster Menswear Archive. But it’s also clear there is a resistance to going back to dressing the way we did before the pandemic: Google searches for “smart casual” have increased by 5,000%.
The suits that have re-emerged into the public eye post-lockdown have been knowingly subversive takes on the traditional silhouette, such as Timothée Chalamet’s pink suit at the Venice film festival and Shawn Mendes’s bare-chested leather jacket suit at the Met Gala. Some of Bond’s suits in the latest film rewrite the script too.
“In No Time to Die, [Bond] wears a beige corduroy suit from Italian designer Massimo Alba,” says Remmert Van Braam, who runs the website Bond Lifestyle. “A full corduroy suit is something that we haven’t seen James Bond wear before, so this is a completely new look.”
The costume designer Suttirat Anne Larlarb has completely updated Bond’s wardrobe for No Time to Die, including a navy sweater with epaulettes and grey combat trousers from N Peal, Henley shirts and an army combat outfit.
“Since Bond is retired from MI6 in part of the film, we see even more casual clothes this time around,” says Van Braam. It’s also maybe a truer reflection of the audience’s wardrobe.
The pandemic may have affected Q’s sense of style, too. The work wardrobe of Q, played by Ben Whishaw, now includes a jumper from the Italian designer Marni. “It may be high fashion, yet it could easily be mistaken for a thrift-store find,” says Groves.
Similar fashion pivots can also be seen in the wardrobes of Moneypenny and Léa Seydoux’s character, Madeleine Swann.
Groves thinks No Time to Die will give Bond stylistic longevity. “The Bond films function in a similar way to classic British tailoring in that they take familiar elements and subtly tweak them so that it feels both new and utterly timeless.”