Alan Rickman as Hans Gruber, shrewd German terrorist leader and self-described “excellent thief”
Los Angeles, Christmas 1987
Film: Die Hard
Release Date: July 15, 1988
Director: John McTiernan
Costume Designer: Marilyn Vance
Like surprisingly many others, Die Hard is my favorite Christmas movie and no holiday season – no matter how hectic or bleak – is complete without a viewing of what is arguably the greatest action movie ever made.
For the first BAMF Style holiday season in 2012, I broke down the rugged (and eventually very sparse) style of Bruce Willis’ John McClane, but it feels like the time has come to look at what the film’s fashion-driven antagonist wore as he led his European gunslingers into Nakatomi Plaza on Christmas Eve 1987.
Mr. Takagi, I could talk about industrialization and men’s fashion all day, but I’m afraid work must intrude…
What’d He Wear?
Nice suit. John Phillips, London. I have two myself. Rumor has it Arafat buys his there.
Obviously, Hans Gruber knows a thing about clothes as he takes the time to compliment the Nakatomi Corporation’s soon-to-be martyr’s suit. Whether or not the dark suit sported by Hans himself is one of his two from the prestigious (but ultimately fictional) John Phillips.
Hans Gruber’s dark charcoal suit is very contemporary to its 1980s setting, not surprising for a man so interested in fashion and image. The jacket is cut short with a double-breasted 4-on-2 button stance.
Hans’ combination of notch lapels and a double-breasted front was most popular during the decade, although it also popped up a bit during the ’60s. When he makes his first appearance on screen, Hans wears his lapels flipped up under his raincoat to create a more menacing look before he enters “businessman” mode when taking over the building. Each lapel has a buttonhole.
The jacket also has a welted breast pocket, jetted hip pockets, a ventless back, and padded shoulders with roped sleeveheads. All in all, very befitting for a flashy ’80s terrorist’s power suit.
Much less is seen of the trousers, especially as Hans spends so much time behind a desk once he has taken control. They have side pockets and plain-hemmed bottoms with a full break. He wears them with a black leather belt with a gold single-prong buckle.
Hans wears a pale blue poplin dress shirt. The collar is slim with moderate spread, and the rounded cuffs close with a button. The front has a placket and a pointed-bottom pocket over the left breast.
Just because he’s killing and stealing on Christmas Eve doesn’t mean Hans Gruber isn’t one to inject some holiday fun into his attire! Hans wears a maroon silk necktie, tied in a four-in-hand knot.
Unlike his nemesis, Hans manages to keep his feet covered throughout the evening. He wears a pair of black leather cap-toe derby shoes and black dress socks.
For his on-screen introduction, Hans Gruber wears the trope-worthy Badass Longcoat, here in the form of a taupe raincoat. The coat is worn open with a loose belt hooked through a loop on each side. Each lapel has a buttonhole through it, and the jacket’s cuffs close through a single button tab.
Finally, Hans’ sole visible accessory is a gold tank watch fastened to his left wrist on a black alligator strap.
Reportedly, it was the intention of screenwriter Steven E. de Souza to feature Hans wearing a TAG Heuer watch to match those of his team… outing him as one of the terrorists when he encounters McClane.
How to Get the Look
If not for his nefarious aims, Hans Gruber would have certainly looked the part of a very welcome guest at a company Christmas party in the ’80s!
- Charcoal tailored “power suit”, consisting of:
- Double-breasted 4×2-button jacket with notch lapels, welted breast pocket, jetted hip pockets, 3-button cuffs, and ventless back
- Trousers with belt loops, side pockets, and plain-hemmed bottoms
- Pale blue poplin dress shirt with slim collar, breast pocket, front placket, and rounded button cuffs
- Maroon silk tie
- Black leather belt with square gold single-prong buckle
- Black leather cap-toe derby shoes
- Black dress socks
- Taupe belted raincoat with 1-button tab cuffs and long single rear vent
- Gold tank watch on black alligator leather strap
For his takeover of Nakatomi Plaza, Hans Gruber’s sidearm is a Heckler & Koch P7M13 semi-automatic pistol, finished in hard chrome and chambered in 9×19 mm Parabellum. Although Hans and his gang are clearly involved in criminal activity without much regard for noise, he is seen removing a suppressor (which matches the pistol’s chrome finish) when he first draws it on Mr. Takagi. According to IMFDB, this indicates that “it’s not a P7M13SD because there is no threaded barrel to use a suppressor”
Heckler & Koch GmbH first revealed its PSP in 1976, aimed at the police market. Production began on the P7 three years later, and the weapon was soon adopted by the German Army’s special forces and the GSG 9 counter-terrorism unit. In addition to its distinguished look and innovative cocking-lever grip, the P7 series utilizes a unique gas-delayed blowback locking system which utilizes each ignited cartridge’s gas pressures.
The first variant of the P7 was the P7M8 in the early 1980s, followed quickly by the P7M13 in 1982 which could carry 13-round magazines of 9 mm ammunition. With its double-stack magazine, the P7M13 was slightly larger at 30 ounces with an overall length of 6.9 inches, sharing the P7M8’s barrel length of 4.1 inches.
The script initially called for a Walther:
Hans slowly takes out his Walther and his silencer.
…which still found use in the film in the form of the menacing Karl’s Walther PPK. Instead, Hans was armed with the less familiar (and thus more exotic) but equally German Heckler & Koch P7M13.
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Buy the movie.
Who said we were terrorists?
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you and yours!