When it comes to fashion, few would argue that 007 is anything less than a 10.
Along with sports cars, gadgets and sex appeal, an impeccable sense of style is a hallmark of the now 46-year-old James Bond movie franchise, which expands to 22 films with the release of "Quantum of Solace."
The look of the newest Bond, played for the second time by Daniel Craig, is rugged in the spirit of Sean Connery, who introduced 007 on screen. His wardrobe is sparse yet elegant, with a palette mostly limited to basic black, white, blue and gray, says Louise Frogley, costume designer of "Quantum of Solace."
To create a good chunk of it, she turned to Tom Ford, the former Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent designer who now has his own Saville Row-style brand.
"I contacted Tom Ford after seeing what he was doing–clothes that are iconic. They’re not clothes where you know where you can buy them, there’s more mystery," Frogley says. "They’re clothes you wish you had."
Ford, who already had dressed Craig for red-carpet appearances, was happy to help.
"A lot of people in the fashion industry think that people who wear traditional clothes are dull. Bond proves that just because you’re wearing traditional clothes, your life can be anything but dull."
He purposely kept the designs streamlined.
"By dressing him in a very simple way, it accentuates that it looks simple on the surface but it isn’t. It’s a metaphor for the perfect suit–the construction that goes into a good suit is a lot of hours of handiwork, but you shouldn’t see any of that it the end result. It should look easy and natural and a part of you," he says.
"I do design things that are more extravagant, but that wouldn’t be right for Daniel Craig or Bond. Bond wears more of a uniform."
Make that many uniforms: His label alone made 450 full outfits for 11 costume changes in the film. There were replicas for stuntmen and outfits with varying degrees of wear and tear.
Among his designs is Bond’s tuxedo, done in midnight blue with a classic shawl collar.
Frogley says that when author Ian Fleming introduced the world to Bond in books just after World War II, the idea of a luxurious wardrobe was exciting and aspirational.
The Bond tuxedo was the perfect symbol for sophistication and untold wealth. In that suit, he’d go to exotic places his fans could only dream of, yet the simplicity of the ensemble also made it relatable.
The cut of the garment is particularly important, since Bond has to run, jump and dodge bullets, while still looking good doing it. The Ford-designed jackets have a roomy skirt, the section of a suit jacket that hangs below the waist, to make action possible
"The jackets would swirl when Daniel was doing a lot of movement," Frogley recalls. "They’re perfect for Bond. In the ’90s, the popular cut of suits was big, but now it’s the ’60s slimmer Italian cut."
Yet Frogley didn’t want Craig’s muscular physique to be distracting. "You want to hide the muscles in a suit, otherwise he ends up looking like Arnold Schwarzenegger. You want to leave that as a wonderful surprise when he’s wearing something else or less," she says with a laugh.
Ah yes, Bond taking off some clothes is another important part of the franchise.
It’s his way with the ladies–as well as his maturity, sophistication, glamour, humor and resourcefulness _ that makes Bond the guy many men dream of being, says Mark Rozzo, deputy editor of Men’s Vogue, which features Craig as Bond on its November cover.
He also has all the right toys, adds Stephen Urquhart, global brand president of Omega.
Bond has worn an Omega watch since 1995, starting with a product placement in "GoldenEye" but the deal has grown into a huge advertising collaboration.
"You can change the actor, and Craig is a very different Bond than (Pierce) Brosnan, but it is still Bond. He’s very suave," Urquhart says. "He has taste and he’s loyal … He has a nice face with a strong glove."
The manliness that 007 exudes is as relevant now as it was in 1962’s "Dr. No," he says. "Only the enemies have changed."
But Rozzo says that Bond’s endurance as a top icon might also be a commentary on the lack of other male icons, with other characters too closely tied to a specific era.
"He (James Bond) is both timeless and timely. … You really have to have one of those qualities to be the other," Rozzo says.
Images courtesy of the Fashion Spot forums.