Pierce Brosnan as James Bond, suave semi-rogue British government agent and “ornithologist”
Havana, Fall 2002
Film: Die Another Day
Release Date: November 20, 2002
Director: Lee Tamahori
Costume Designer: Lindy Hemming
For this 00-7th of June, BAMF Style is honoring a request from Troy Swezey to analyze how the world’s least secret secret agent dresses casually for a warm afternoon under the Cuban sun.
After his release from North Korean captivity and subsequent escape from British medical captivity, James Bond follows a lead to Havana to get some answers. While there, he meets fellow badass Giacinta “Jinx” Johnson (Halle Berry), an American NSA agent who is able to meets him toe-to-toe when it comes to trading liquor shots, gunshots, or innuendo-laced wit.
Since this was filmed much prior to the U.S. restoring diplomatic relations with Cuba in July 2015, the ancient Spanish port city of Cádiz actually doubled for Cuba. It was on a chilly day in Cádiz that the shot of Halle Berry emerging from the waves in her orange Eres bikini – remniscent of Ursula Andress doing the same in Dr. No forty years earlier – was filmed.
What’d He Wear?
After forty years of globehopping in exotic, tropical locales, it isn’t until James Bond’s rogue visit to Cuba in Die Another Day that we see 007 sporting that stalwart of men’s leisurewear, the Hawaiian shirt. It’s fitting that Pierce Brosnan, one of the cheekier Bonds of the series, would be the first seen on screen in this island staple.
Originally known as an Aloha shirt, this garment originated in Hawaii as a dress shirt, reflective of both the warm climate and laid-back culture. Locals often wear Aloha shirts for business, replacing the coat and tie with a more climate-friendly alternative. While Aloha shirts have garnered a questionable reputation over the decades, a quality shirt still has its deserved place in the closet of a well-dressed man of leisure. (Think Don Draper, Elvis, or Hawkeye Pierce.) In fact, the New York Post just ran a piece yesterday entitled “Hawaiian shirts aren’t tacky anymore.”
Bond naturally wears his Aloha shirt with style, opting to pair it with linen trousers and chukka boots rather than cargo shorts and flip flops. He buttons only the bottom two of the shirt’s white plastic buttons, leaving the top three open to reveal his white ribbed cotton sleeveless undershirt. (The Brits call it a “vest”, some Americans call it a “wife beater”… I prefer the term “A-shirt”.)
Hawaiian tourists can often be spotted by their louder, brighter Aloha shirts while true dwellers of the state opt for less busy prints. Bond’s shirt is about as subtle as an Aloha shirt can be, with a muted lighter blue floral pattern overlaid on a blue ground.
Bond’s linen floral shirt by Brioni is very typical of an Aloha shirt with its short and cuffed half sleeves, camp collar, and straight hem designed to be worn untucked. The rounded patch pocket over the left breast is subtly sewn in to avoid disrupting the pattern of the shirt. Each side seam runs down from under the armpit to a short vent at the bottom. There are two rear side pleats under the shoulder yoke on the back.
Bond also keeps his lower half cool and comfortable in a pair of dark navy linen flat front trousers. When exiting his borrowed Fairlane convertible, he has the lowest button of his shirt undone, revealing a dark brown leather belt with a squared steel buckle.
Bond matches his belt to his shoes, sporting a pair of dark brown suede chukka boots with dark soles. Church’s provided most of Bond’s footwear during the Brosnan era, so it’s possible that these are a pair like the Church’s Ryder III that Daniel Craig wore in Quantum of Solace, although Brosnan’s appear to have leather soles rather than the distinctive black Dainite® rubber grip soles.
Bond’s only accessory in this sequence are his Persol sunglasses, as he hasn’t yet checked in with Q Branch to receive his watch. Persol designed their PE 2672-S specifically for Pierce Brosnan to wear in Die Another Day, incorporating its classic tortoise plastic frames with dark brown crystal lenses and the signature Persol silver arrows over the Meflecto Flexible temples designed to contour perfectly and comfortably to the wearer’s face. Plenty of info about these sunglasses can be found at James Bond Lifestyle.
For another analysis and breakdown of Bond’s casual outfit in Cuba, check out Matt Spaiser’s related post at The Suits of James Bond.
Go Big or Go Home
After arriving in Cuba, one of Bond’s first stops is to drop in on cigar factory owner/MI6 sleeper agent Raoul (Emilio Echevarría), who hooks him up with the books, binoculars, and car that 007 needs to satisfy his chosen cover of… ornithologist?
When Ian Fleming was first developing his character for Casino Royale in the early 1950s, he wanted a simple, plain-sounding name to keep his character neutral in the excitement of the world around him. Fleming was a birdwatcher who spotted the name of author James Bond on the definitive field guide Birds of the West Indies and, as Fleming told The New Yorker in 1962:
…I thought by god, [James Bond] is the dullest name I ever heard.
Die Another Day, the 20th film of the franchise released on the 40th anniversary of the first flick, contains many callbacks and references to earlier films throughout its plot. The inclusion of Birds of the West Indies actually appearing on screen is the movie’s way of paying tribute to the character’s origins while also lending him a semi-reasonable cover during his time in Cuba. You can pick up your own copy at Amazon or read a little more about the franchise’s relationship with the field guide at James Bond Lifestyle.
“I could use a fast car,” Bond requests of Raoul, although the latter seems to have recognized Bond’s true preference for form over function by providing him with a stylish and pristine 1957 Ford Fairline 500 Skyliner convertible in a two-tone brown and cream.
What to Imbibe
Although Bond’s blue Hawaiian shirt brings a different cocktail to mind, 007 pays tribute to his ostensibly Cuban surroundings by sipping a mojito at a beachside bar.
So what is a mojito… other than a bartender’s worst nightmare? The IBA-specified recipe involves white rum, fresh lime juice, sugar, soda water, and mint sprigs – with yerba buena traditionally used in the original Cuban recipe. Muddle six mint leaves with two teaspoons of sugar and three parts lime juice in a Collins glass or highball glass, then splash in some soda water and fill the glass with cracked ice. Pour in four parts white rum then top off with more soda water and another sprig of mint. Some folks will add a slice of lime for taste or a straw for convenience.
The mojito is a definitive cocktail for leisure, with its refreshing sweet mix of mint and citrus balancing the potent rum for a tasty but low-alcohol concoction for a warm summer day. Its origins stretch back potentially to the 1586 raid at Cartagena de Indias when Francis Drake’s raiders found the perfect anti-scurvy ingredients in Cuba.
How to Get the Look
Hawaiian shirts are often too easily dismissed as the domain of outdated dads or corny frat dudes, but Brosnan’s Bond shows how a classy Aloha shirt can really add to one’s vacation.
- Blue two-tone floral linen Hawaiian shirt with camp collar, 5 white button plain front, breast pocket, cuffed half sleeves, short side vents, and rear side pleats
- White ribbed cotton sleeveless undershirt
- Dark navy linen flat front trousers with belt loops and plain-hemmed bottoms
- Dark brown leather belt with squared steel single-prong buckle
- Dark brown suede Church’s 2-eyelet desert boots with dark leather soles
- Persol PE2672-S tortoise plastic-framed sunglasses with dark brown crystal lenses & silver arrow temple logos
Iconic Alternatives has a great rundown of affordable options to channel elements of this, such as the blue floral-printed shirt, and many other 007 outfits.
Another alternative for Brosnan’s floral-printed shirt, via the pros at Aloha FunWear, is this sharp blue-on-blue “Bamboo Garden” tropical-patterned rayon shirt by Paradise Found, the same company that made many of Tom Selleck’s iconic Aloha shirts on Magnum, P.I.
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Check out the movie.
My friends call me James Bond.