George Lazenby as James Bond, British secret agent posing as heraldry expert Sir Hilary Bray
Swiss Alps, Christmas Eve 1969
Film: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
Release Date: December 18, 1969
Director: Peter R. Hunt
Tailor: Dimi Major
Costume Designer: Marjory Cornelius
For the 00-7th of December, I’m reflecting on James Bond’s first Christmas season on-screen, which he spends in the Swiss Alps under the guise of Sir Hilary Bray (a different Hilary than the Hillary that has been so frequently in the news… although one could technically call his outfit here a “pantsuit” as well.)
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service sends James Bond in search of his long-time rival, megalomaniac Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Telly Savalas). In his inaugural and ultimately lone outing as 007, George Lazenby’s Bond spends a major portion of the film disguised as Sir Hilary Bray, a brilliant but banal “sable basilisk” from the College of Arms in London.
Bond adopts Sir Hilary Bray’s professorial manner of dressing and non-threatening demeanor in an attempt to downplay his true identity as a debonair womanizer that would surely give him away as 007. As Blofeld himself notes after he discovers Bond’s deception: “Respectable baronets from the College of Heralds do not seduce female patients in clinics.”
Indeed, Bond spent far too much effort investing in his props – his outfit, his glasses, and his battered brown suitcase to replace the Gucci one seen earlier in his office – and not enough in adapting his behavior.
What’d He Wear?
To effectively pose as Sir Hilary Bray, James Bond evidently borrowed or copied every stitch of the man’s clothing as seen in the scene where the two first meet. The centerpiece is a brown tweed wool three-piece suit patterned with cream mini checks and a brick red windowpane overcheck. Since the focus of the Bond films is always to ensure that 007 is looking his best (Octopussy notwithstanding), it was tailored to fit and flatter Lazenby by his tailor Dimi Major.
The single-breasted 2-button suit jacket incorporates many elements of country styling with only its short length preventing it from being a true hacking jacket. Many hacking jacket details like the rear-slanting flapped hip pockets and the long single back vent blend with other details noticeable on the suits that Major tailored for Lazenby such as softly padded shoulders with natural sleeveheads. The notch lapels are slightly wider than those on Bond’s suit jackets earlier in the decade. There is also a welted breast pocket and 3-button cuffs.
An extra layer of tweedy warmth comes from the suit’s matching waistcoat. The vest has four welted pockets and six buttons to close, with the lowest button left open over the notched bottom.
Sneaking around to his various sexual assignations on Christmas Eve (now there’s a phrase), Bond ditches the jacket, vest, and tie and slips on a light brown cardigan with the suit trousers for a more relaxed look.
The double forward-pleated trousers maintain many of the same styling details as those worn by Sean Connery earlier in the series, although Lazenby’s trousers have a lower rise. The waistband has an extended tab in the front to close with two-button “Daks top” adjusters on the right and left sides. The only pockets are the short-lived slanted pockets on each side. The fit through the leg is slim and tapered down to the cuffed bottoms with a short break.
Bond effectively pairs a check shirt with his check suit by wearing a shirt with a larger scaled tattersall check than the tick-checking of his suiting. The tattersall pattern consists of an intersecting gold, navy, and green grid over an ecru ground. The shirt itself is brushed cotton twill and styled similarly to his other shirts in the movie with a spread collar, plain front, and 1-button cuffs. An attractive shirt, for sure, but decidedly less luxurious or flashy than Bond’s usual attire and thus very fitting for his assumed identity as Sir Hilary Bray.
Doubling down on his disguise, Bond’s slim dark navy repp tie features a large gold embroidered coat of arms emblazoned directly below the narrow Windsor knot. This crest, embroidered in gold with red detailing, appears to consist of two lions (or dragons) supporting a coronet and shield with a motto scroll along the bottom.
Bond’s brown leather wingtip derby brogues are very appropriate for the outfit with their perforated medallion toes and rubber soles. He wears them with black socks, although brown socks would be a better choice to continue the leg line (especially given the high trouser break.)
007 leaves no detail unaddressed; even the coat and hat were borrowed from those seen hanging in Sir Hilary’s office during his brief visit. He lands at Piz Gloria sporting an old-fashioned brown tweed Ulster coat with a cape attached to the tall collar and swelled edges throughout. The knee-length Ulster coat’s single-breasted front has five brown horn buttons, although Lazenby leaves the top two – including the one at the collar – open.
The cape drapes down the front and back, ending just above the line of the fifth (and lowest) button in the front and enveloping the top of the single vent in the back. Unlike a Sherlock Holmes-style Inverness cape, the Ulster coat has sleeves; in Bond’s case, these are set-in sleeves that each end with a single button on the cuff. The hip pockets slant slight toward the back and are closed with a flap.
Sean Connery’s Bond had always worn trilbies for business, suavely tossing them onto Moneypenny’s rack – er, hat rack – upon entering M’s office. Lazenby’s Bond performs the same ritual, but the only trilby he actually wears is the brown tweed short-brimmed hat that forms part of his disguise as Sir Hilary Bray. A faint red windowpane contributes to the subtle plaid texture of the trilby, which has a pinched crown and a narrow self-band.
Bond does his best to fight the bitter cold atop Piz Gloria (as well as to look like a man very sensitive to the cold) by donning a scarf and gloves, all following the same brown-centric earth tones of his suit, shoes, outerwear, and shirt. His light brown scarf is soft and woolen, possibly cashmere.
Bond’s leather gloves are less luxurious in a dull take on “old gold” that lands somewhere in the “brown mustard” color camp. Despite their color, his gloves certainly serve him better than the makeshift gloves that later come from ripping out the lining of his trouser pockets.
“It takes more than a few props to turn 007 into a Herald,” observes Blofeld as he breaks the pair of eyeglasses that Bond wore in his Bray disguise. The glasses, which offer a scholarly appearance reminiscent of Aldous Huxley, are round with thin tortoiseshell frames.
The more subtle of Bond’s “props” is a gold ring, worn on his left pinky, with a large black stone setting.
The most 007-ish of his “props” is a stainless steel Rolex Chronograph, also known as as a “Pre-Daytona”, ref. 6238. The watch has a silver dial with three sub-dials and is worn on a steel link bracelet.
This watch could be considered part of Bond’s disguise since 007 wears a black dial Rolex Submariner throughout the rest of the film. However, Sir Hilary wears a flat gold dress watch on his wrist in addition to a pocket watch on a gold chain during their meeting… with nary a Rolex in sight.
According to James Bond Lifestyle, this Rolex – serial number 1206613 – was purchased by EON Productions at Bucherer Interlaken on October 23, 1968, for Lazenby to wear on screen as 007. It was supposedly redesigned as a compass with the red seconds hand doubling as the compass hand. After production wrapped, the wardrobe department sold the watch among many other costumes and accessories. It has been sold and auctioned several times over the last few decades, most recently by Artcurial in July 2016.
How to Get the Look
James Bond dresses more like Sir Hilary Bray than 007, but there’s certainly nothing wrong with that. Evidently, Sir Hilary knows a thing or two about putting together a timeless tweedy outfit to keep any gentleman warm during a chilly winter day.
- Brown checked tweed suit with a brick red windowpane:
- Single-breasted 2-button jacket with notch lapels, welted breast pocket, slanted flapped hip pockets, 3-button cuffs, and long single vent
- Single-breasted 6-button vest with notched bottom and four welted pockets
- Double forward-pleated trousers with 2-button side-tab “Daks top” waist adjusters, extended front closure tab, slanted side pockets, no rear pockets, and turn-ups/cuffs
- Ecru tattersall check cotton twill shirt with spread collar, plain front, and 1-button cuffs
- Slim dark navy repp tie with gold embroidered coat of arms
- Brown leather perforated medallion-toe wingtip derby brogues
- Black dress socks
- Brown tweed knee-length Ulster coat with cape attached to tall collar, single-breasted 5-button front, slanted flapped hip pockets, 1-button cuffs, and single back vent
- Light brown soft woolen scarf
- Mustard brown leather gloves
- Rolex Chronograph 6238 stainless watch with a silver dial and steel link bracelet
- Gold pinky ring with large black stone setting
- Round tortoise-framed eyeglasses
Iconic Alternatives has a great rundown of affordable options to channel elements of this, such as his Rolex watch, and many other 007 outfits.
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Buy the movie.
Yes… we live in a world of avarice and deceit.