Now pay attention, 007. Amazingly, it has been just over a year since James Bond’s last mission hit the big screen and sent box-office ticket sales soaring across the world’s cinema circuits. As with all previous 007 adventures in the smash-hit franchise, a major part of the publicity campaign for SPECTRE concerned the ‘image’ of our hero and his style.
As Daniel Craig’s fourth Bond movie has just passed its first anniversary, the JBIFC takes the opportunity to look back briefly on how James Bond’s all-important image was carefully crafted for the Sam Mendes-directed film, a movie which built upon many of the themes carved out in Skyfall.
In 1996 a book entitled Dressed to Kill: James Bond The Suited Hero was published in which Bond producer Cubby Broccoli penned an introduction. At one point in his preface, Cubby stated: ‘If I had to pick one of the films as my favourite it would probably be From Russia With Love, as I feel it was with this film that the Bond formula and style were perfected’.
He continued: ‘The style of Bond has always been very important to me. Bond has always been a smartly dressed hero… for me (and many others) he epitomizes a certain inimitable British style, knowing what to wear, what to drink, what to say – and when to break the rules’.
The Bond producer had pointed to something that has always challenged the film-makers with each new 007 adventure: how can they provide and craft something fresh and stylish for their central character in each new film, without straying too far from certain familiar style ‘traditions’ that have always given continuity to the hugely popular franchise over the years?
Bond movie no.24 was a case in point, and presented just such a challenge yet again. This time a great deal of thought was put into crafting an eye-catching style for Bond and his visual image, especially as EON hoped to top the enormous success of Skyfall. Catching the attention of both Bond fans and the general public alike, and teasing them visually to create an exciting pre-release ‘buzz’ around the film, was a vital part of this. This was exemplified in the way that one of the official SPECTRE posters was released on 3rd September, 2015, just weeks before the Bond 24 premiere: it showed Daniel Craig in a pleasingly traditional James Bond tuxedo pose with a gun across his chest. This visually striking image was rolled out in train stations and on buses across London, together with poster-sites and in cinemas across the country, and also extensively on the internet. It proved to be enormously successful.
The eye-catching new poster, which had been the first SPECTRE teaser poster to be released since March, 2015, was clearly designed to pay tribute to both the Sean Connery and Roger Moore Bond eras. Indeed, it was evidently crafted to tap into some iconic images from the world of the early big-screen 007 series: Craig wore a white tuxedo and red carnation, which was very reminiscent of the famous ‘Fort Knox’ publicity still of Sean Connery from Goldfinger (1964). In that photo, Connery, standing in front of a large pile of stacked gold bars, wore a white tuxedo with peaked lapels, with a red carnation and Walther PPK across his chest. The new SPECTRE poster also had Craig in a white dinner jacket, with a peak lapel and ivory grosgain details, designed by Tom Ford. Craig’s Bond was also wearing a black silk grosgain diamond batwing bow tie.
Live and Let High
As well as the nod to Goldfinger, the new poster also had a skull in the background design, hinting strongly at the Mexican ‘Day of the Dead’ sequences that would come in the pre-credits to SPECTRE. This haunting image was arguably designed to be reminiscent of Live and Let Die (1973) (a particular favourite of Mendes) or, alternatively, the original dustjacket design by Richard Chopping for the Jonathan Cape first edition of the Ian Fleming novel Goldfinger. Either way, the new SPECTRE poster had a great reaction from James Bond fans everywhere, and created a huge amount of discussion on website fan forums. It also raised anticipation for the new movie to yet new heights.
In another treat for 007 aficionados, the official SPECTRE standee artwork was also released on the same day (3rd September, 2015). This became the standee artwork that was placed on display in cinema foyers from the end of September, and featured both Daniel in his tuxedo and Lea Seydoux as Madeleine Swann in her evening dress. Again, this piece of stunning artwork created enormous satisfaction on the part of 007 fans across the globe.
Bond’s clothing style in SPECTRE was especially interesting to historians of fashion design. They pointed out that the cream or white-coloured take on the traditional black tuxedo was first popularised by party-going rich men in the 1930s, either on cruises in the tropics (where a white dinner jacket could help beat the hot temperatures) or in Casinos on the French Riviera (the kind of places that the young Ian Fleming became very familiar with). Moreover, in the movies, Humphrey Bogart’s impeccable white tuxedo as seen in the classic movie Casablanca was said to have revived an interest in the kind of clothes worn by heroes in exotic climates, a classy image reinforced by some of the biggest screen stars of the 1950s. And, in a sense, such trends anticipated the Bondian image of the 1960s.
Surprisingly, as Dressed to Kill pointed out back in 1996, the influence of the Bond films on contemporary men’s fashion has not been studied in the same way as, for example, the cars or gadgets have. However, with the ‘Brioni’ look of the Pierce Brosnan films at the time and, more recently (and more prominently) with the major success of the Daniel Craig films and their close attention to image, this relative lack of interest appears to be changing, and in a big way. In fact, the huge creative energy that was placed into getting Bond’s ‘style’ just right in SPECTRE more than paid dividends for EON: the movie won various well-earned awards and accolades for its clothing design, including for hard-working costume designer Jany Temime.
Did You Know?
In the early 1960s, the French men’s magazine Adam commissioned the photographer Helmut Newton to interpret the ‘Bond look’ in a series of black-and-white fashion photos using British clothes on sale in France at the time. In one photo, Bond author Ian Fleming was even persuaded to play the role of a bow-tied ‘M’, sitting at a desk with a pen.