Bond in Brioni – The GoldenEye Charcoal Windowpane 3-Piece Suit
Pierce Brosnan as James Bond, sophisticated British secret agent
London, England to St. Petersburg, Russia, April 1995
Release Date: November 13, 1995
Director: Martin Campbell
Costume Designer: Lindy Hemming
Obviously, I’ve been watching GoldenEye lately. For what many Bond fans – including myself – consider the finest of the Pierce Brosnan era, GoldenEye marked a re-emphasis on style after the grittier Dalton films. Audiences that had come to expect the winking humor of Roger Moore were disappointed when Timothy Dalton was going after the Muhjahideen and the South American drug cartel; Bond had gotten too real.
After a six-year absence, Bond returned in the charming form of Pierce Brosnan, who would have accepted the role before Dalton’s first film if not for the catch-22 of his Remington Steele contract. In 1986, the producers finally acknowledged that the 59-year-old Moore should gracefully retire from the role of a romantic action hero. They turned to long-time prospect Pierce Brosnan, who had just become available due to the cancellation of Remington Steele by NBC, but the publicity surrounding Brosnan’s offer led the producers of Remington Steele to renew his contract for another season, thus forcing Bond to decline the Bond role. Unfortunately for Pierce, the show only lasted another season. The final episode of Remington Steele aired April 17, 1987, two months before the release of The Living Daylights in June. While two months certainly would not have been enough time for Brosnan to film an entire movie, it must have been a very bitter two months realizing that he lost the role of a lifetime for one stupid season.
Fortunately for Pierce, audiences weren’t crazy about Dalton’s interpretation (although I think he was excellent!), and after Licence to Kill in 1989, legal battles and lack of audience interest led to the cancellation of Dalton’s third proposed film. Bond entered its longest dark era ever until June 7, 1994, when Pierce finally received his official casting as James Bond. He was eight years older than he had been in 1986 (because math), but he was just as anxious. The film nodded to the “correct” timeline by placing Brosnan’s Bond in GoldenEye‘s epilogue, set in 1986.
Brosnan as Bond set a new standard for Bond’s attire. Before Brosnan, Bond always looked sharply-attired, but GoldenEye showed us that this Bond really knew how to dress. Rather than merely looking good in a tailored suit, this Bond worked in colors and accessories that would have never been seen on the gray-and-blue-attired Sean Connery of the ’60s. Sometimes, it was a bit much, but sometimes – such as the sequence from Q’s lab to his St. Petersburg arrival – it was right on the money.
What’d He Wear?
The start of the Brosnan era was heralded by the announcement of a new costume house for Bond. Connery was tailored by Anthony Sinclair; most of Moore’s tailoring was from Douglas Hayward. For Brosnan, all of his suits were sourced from Brioni, the legendary Italian high-end fashion house, headquartered in Abruzzo. (NB: Abruzzo is the region most the Italian side of my family hails from. Go figure!)
Lindy Hemming, costume designer from GoldenEye through Casino Royale, chose Brioni as Bond’s primary suit provider throughout her tenure. She explained that she wanted a luxurious, expensive suit resembling the Savile Row tailoring but with the capabilities for fast and plentiful production. Once Hemming left after Casino Royale, Brioni went with her and Tom Ford took over as Bond’s suit provider.
After a tone-setting meeting in M’s office, Brosnan waltzes into Q’s lab, where he showcases one of the finest suits of his tenure, an elegant charcoal gray wool three-piece Brioni suit with a blue windowpane.
The jacket is single-breasted with notch lapels rolling down to the low 3-button front, which he tends to keep unbuttoned unless he is wearing an overcoat, in which case he fastens the center button only. The fit is perfect, slightly pulled at the waist with straight shoulders and long rear double vents. The slanted hip pockets are flapped with the addition of a ticket pocket to remind Bond that he is an Englishman despite his Italian suit. The jacket also has 4-button cuffs.
As usual for a Brioni suit, it is lined with Bemberg, a type of rayon yarn developed in 1918 by J.P. Bemberg and used for purposes ranging from presentation flags to high-quality suits and coats. This would naturally be an application of the latter.
Bond’s suit jacket also has a welted breast pocket where Bond wears a blue silk puffed pocket square, nicely calling out the blue ground in his tie. In films prior to GoldenEye, Bond typically only wore the usual white linen folded handkerchief as a pocket square, but the blue silk puff is an appropriate touch for Brosnan’s more “dandified” Bond. He wears the same blue pocket square later in Russia, paired with a navy blue suit (Brioni’s “Augusto” model suit).
This was one of three three-piece Brioni suits commissioned by Hemming, although this was the only suit to actually use the ordered waistcoat. The others were the gray Glen Plaid suit worn in the previous scene in M’s office and the navy blue suit mentioned earlier that Bond wears in Russia. I have no opinion on the vest’s appropriateness for the former suit, but it would have been clumsy with the navy blue “action” suit, especially since Bond has to fumble with his piton belt while escaping from the Russian archives room… but I’m getting ahead of myself.
The matching vest (or waistcoat, Brits) with this suit is single-breasted with six buttons down the front to the notched bottom. Since Pierce is a classy bastard, we never see him without the coat on and thus the remaining details of the vest are left to speculation. If I were a guessing man, and I am about 70% of the time, I would say it has two lower pockets and a Bemberg rear lining to match the inside of the jacket. The latter portion of my speculation is confirmed by an auction listing for the suit.
Bond’s trousers are the most evocative of the ’90s, but they are still universally fashionable to still look good today. They are double reverse-pleated and are worn with a belt. The trousers have a wider, generous fit through the legs down to the turn-ups/cuffs, with a medium break over Bond’s shoes. I’m once again left to speculate that, given Lindy Hemming’s habit of giving Bond belts with three-piece suits and given the black leather shoes, Bond is likely wearing a black leather belt. Suspenders (or braces, Brits) are my preferred trouser suspension device with a three-piece suit, but if you can wear a belt without it bulging under the vest, good for you.
His shoes are a pair of black calf leather semi-brogues – or “half brogues” for my more literal readers. They are likely the same Church’s Diplomat semi-brogues that he wears in the following scenes with the navy blue suit. They are still available from the Church’s site for £395. James Bond Lifestyle naturally has a terrific write-up about Church’s Diplomats and the origins of the semi-brogue shoe. In summary, the semi-brogue was developed by John Lobb in 1937 to give customers are more stylish oxford without the boldness of a full brogue. It differs with a perforated toe cap rather than the wing tip as seen on full brogues. They are a good choice for Bond to wear around Q’s lab and while traveling abroad, as they are a touch too informal to be worn for dressier occasions.
In London, Bond wears a white poplin dress shirt with white buttons down the front placket and double/French cuffs. It is made by Sulka, which is unfortunately no longer available in the United States. Under the moderately spread collar, Bond wears a much more vibrant tie than we’ve ever seen on him before. Also made by Sulka, this necktie has a dark blue ground with red and yellow cubes split into nine-square grids (picture a monochromatic Rubik’s cube) and connected with a black outline. This tie is muted compared to some of the louder ties of Brosnan’s Bond and is understated enough to make the outfit classy rather than used car salesman-y.
When he arrives in St. Petersburg, Bond has kept the same suit and tie but swapped out the shirt for a light blue woven shirt – also from Sulka – with the same details, including a front placket and French cuffs.
His cuff links are best seen in Zukovsky’s office; they are mother-of-pearl squares with silver trim and rounded backs.
The most noticeable addition to Bond’s suit in St. Petersburg is a long and luxurious navy blue wool overcoat from Brioni with a single-breasted front and notch lapels. Bond wears his lapels turned up in the rear, so we get a glimpse of the black felt under the collar.
The overcoat’s 3-button front has a similarly low stance as the suit underneath it, adding to the luxury but reducing the practicality of wearing such a coat in a country where April is not a spring month. Since he wears the open and without a scarf, it’s safe to deduce that he didn’t feel too cold, especially since he doesn’t wear any overcoat at all while galavanting around town the following night in the navy blue suit.
The overcoat also has a welted breast pocket, flapped hip pockets, 3-button cuffs, and a long rear single vent.
(In case you’re curious, the average mean temperature for St. Petersburg in April is 41.2 °F (5.1 °C), which I consider to be scarf-less overcoat weather. However, the record low for St. Petersburg in April is -21.8 °F, so Bond should be careful.)
With his arrival, Bond wears a pair of black leather gloves. Maybe he didn’t feel quite as warm as he was acting…
One of these suits was sold at auction through Bonhams auction house on March 6, 2007 as part of “The Angels Star Collection of Film & TV Costumes”. Many Bond costumes were part of the sale, including many women’s dresses and Sean Connery’s dinner jacket from Thunderball.
Lot 175, which included this suit, a Turnbull & Asser shirt, and an ugly Simpson of Piccadilly tie that was made for GoldenEye (but thankfully not used), sold for £8,640 ($14,394 in real money) and was described as:
A Brioni three-piece suit, shirt and tie, the three piece suit of grey wool with blue thread, the jacket having Brioni silk effect logo lining, labelled inside “Brioni, Roma” also labelled “Angels & Bermans, The Costumiers to the Entertainment Industry” and inscribed in blue ink in an unknown hand “1995 GOLDEN EYE PIERCE BROSNAN” with label to inside pocket with Brioni fabric label stamped “MARK SOUTWORT REF 3” the waistcoat and trousers bearing similar labels, waistcoat having silk effect logo back, with tear to back seam, together with a Turnbull & Asser sea island cotton shirt labelled “Made by Turnbull & Asser Ltd, London, Made in England, Sea Island Cotton Quality 120°f-60°C Line Dry, by Appointment to HRH The Prince of Wales, Shirt Makers”, and a Simpson of Piccadilly patterned silk tie labelled “1995 GOLDENEYE PIERCE BROSNAN”.
So, there you go. I’m a little bitter that those Bonhams guys didn’t tell us about the vest pockets, but I think we’ll all survive without that knowledge and let the mystery live on.
GoldenEye broke from the Rolex tradition of Bond watches by fitting an Omega onto Pierce’s left wrist. Specifically, a Omega Seamaster Professional 2541.80.00 300M Quartz using the Omega 1538 Quartz precision movement with a blue face and bezel on a stainless steel bracelet.
This would be the quartz 2541.80.00’s only appearance, as Bond was issued an automatic movement 2531.00 for Tomorrow Never Dies two years later.
Go Big or Go Home
Bond masters the art of international style, looking just as cool in Russia as he did in London wearing the same suit. This mastery is especially evident by comparing Bond to the men he interacts with in both places.
Before he leaves London, Bond visits Q in his lab. Q, who makes no claim of being a fashion plate, dresses nicely in a brown tweed three-piece suit, plaid shirt, and a red tie to match the shirt pattern. All in all, he looks like a nice old Englishman. When Q is in the same frame as Bond, it is obvious which one of the two spends his time traveling the world bedding women and shooting bad guys and which one fusses in his lab all day.
When he arrives in St. Petersburg, Bond immediately meets his CIA contact Jack Wade, who has America written all over him. While some of us Americans can be very good dressers (see Steve McQueen), we have a reputation for laziness in our attire. This Thrillist article puts it best:
Your travel wardrobe is oh-so-functional, so terribly practical, and so obnoxiously comfortable. Patagonia, Uggs, and North Face are akin to draping yourself in American flags.
Interestingly, both Bond and Wade wear variations of gray windowpane suits upon their first meeting, but Wade doesn’t impress anyone in his rumpled suit, his pale orange shirt, his tie resembling the love child of ’70s wallpaper and vomit, or his stereotypical Russian ushanka – his likely attempt to “fit in”.
Interestingly, Bond spends the first day of his trip to Russia drawing guns on government agents and mobsters. Russia, for all of its pluses, is not a country known to take crime or criticism lightly. For an arrogant Englishman to show up and pull his gun out on two government agents within an hour of his arrival and live to tell the tale, Bond must be doing something right.
GoldenEye marks yet another instance in which Bond is identified by his gun…
Zukovsky: Walther PPK, 7.65 millimeter. Only three men I know use such a gun…. I believe I’ve killed two of them.
Bond: Lucky me.
Exchanges like this, while giving Robbie Coltrane additional opportunities to sound badass, don’t acknowledge the fact that the Walther PPK is one of the most common firearms in the world with more than 5 million variants made since the introduction of the Walther PP in 1929.
Zukovsky’s line is somewhat excusable as he says it with a gun pointing at his head, and the line is more to sound cool and make the gunman aware that Zukovsky doesn’t feel intimidated. In You Only Live Twice, Mr. Osato’s proud identification of Bond since he was the only person known to SPECTRE to carry a PPK is total shit. Up to that point, in the Bond universe, we’ve seen Felix Leiter in Dr. No, Kerim Bey in From Russia With Love, and two SPECTRE operative in Thunderball all use their own PPKs! True, three of those guys were dead by the time of You Only Live Twice, but why would SPECTRE just assume that a guy sitting in their office carrying one of the most common handguns in the world is most likely a guy that has been supposedly dead for weeks? Hitler used a Walther PPK; why didn’t Osato assume it was him sitting in his office?
Sorry. I’m ranting about a completely different movie at this point, but come on, Roald Dahl. You wrote Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach, and Matilda. You couldn’t be a little more creative?
Anyway, Bond carries a PPK in GoldenEye. It is blued with black plastic grips and, since it is chambered in 7.65 – also known as .32 ACP – it has a seven round magazine, meaning a total capacity of eight when another bullet is chambered.
So why does “7.65 millimeter” mean .32 ACP? This goes all the way back to 1899, when the cartridge was developed for Fabrique Nationale’s (FN) new semi-automatic pistol, the FN Model 1900, the first modern production handgun to use a slide. FN was Belgian, but they often relied on the designs of John Browning because Browning was a total badass and designed most of the greatest firearms of the 20th century. As a 7.65 mm diameter semi-rimmed bullet in a 17 mm case and designed by Browning, the round was naturally designated 7.65×17 mm Browning SR.
“Okay, dumbass, thanks a lot,” you say. “You totally ignored the question you had me hypothetically ask.”
You’re right, I did. Now, let’s look at the metric system vs. the imperial system. The diameter of the 7.65 mm round is 0.32 inches… thus .32-caliber. Since the round was adopted within three years for the Colt Model 1903 Pocket Hammerless semi-automatic pistol, it was designated in the United States as the .32 Automatic Colt Pistol (ACP) round.
The .32 ACP/7.65 mm Browning round gained some popularity in America, primarily for self-defense and concealed carry weapons like the Colt 1903 or the Walther PPK, but the police were already using the larger .38 Special and the military favored the .45 ACP, so the .32 remained the domain of the citizen. Across the Atlantic, the .32/7.65 round had its time as the standard military and police round in most major countries.
How to Get the Look
Whether you plan on going to London or Russia, this is the suit for you!
- Charcoal gray wool Brioni three-piece suit (with blue windowpane), consisting of:
- Single-breasted jacket with a low 3-button front, welted breast pocket, flapped slanted hip pockets, 4-button cuffs, and double rear vents
- Single-breasted vest with a 6-button front and notched bottom
- Double reverse-pleated trousers with belt loops, side pockets, and turn-ups/cuffs
- White poplin or light blue woven long-sleeve Sulka dress shirt with moderate spread collar, front placket, and double/French cuffs
- Dark blue ground Sulka woven silk necktie with red and yellow nine-square grids connected by a black pattern
- Mother-of-pearl square cuff links with silver trim
- Navy wool full-length Brioni overcoat with notch lapels, low 3-button front, welted breast pocket, flapped hip pockets, 3-button cuffs, and long single rear vent
- Black leather belt… probably
- Black calf leather Church’s Diplomat semi-brogues
- Black dress socks… probably
- Black leather gloves
- Black leather shoulder holster (RHD) for Walther PPK
- Omega Seamaster Professional Diver 2541.80.00 wristwatch with blue dial and stainless bracelet/case
- Blue silk puffed pocket square, worn in the suit jacket breast pocket
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Check out the movie.
James Bond, stiff-ass Brit.
The .32 ACP is semi-rimmed, so the bullet is actually slightly smaller. The actual bullet is around .30, the .32 actually refers to the case rim.
Turnback cuffs are so cool especially when worn by very masculine men. You can now get these cuffs easily from on-line tailors
Thanks for commenting! I’m exploring your site, and it looks like one can order a great variety of shirts from lewistaylorshirts.com.
Great article. I miss the understated charm of the Brioni suits Pierce wore so well. Anyway, I would have been curious to know the actual (equivalent) size of the suit described in the auction. A US/UK 38 ? Have you any idea ? or perhaps a 40 in todays’ sizing, given the fact the suits were cut fairly loose in the chest and waist in his first two Bond movies ? Brosnan was very slim in Goldeneye, yet in Tomorrow Never Dies he looks like 20 pounds heavier -cf. your photo ‘Ministry of the silly walks !’ Perhaps he was a size 40 by then.
I’m afraid I don’t know the size of Brosnan’s suits in either film, but I agree with you that it probably increased a bit between each of his Bond outings. Some size info is available in this auction post from The World Is Not Enough – http://natedsanders.com/james_bond_suit_screen_worn_by_pierce_brosnan_in__-lot30917.aspx – but not specifically what you were looking for. Apologies that I couldn’t be more helpful!