The Spy Who Loved Me: Bond’s Safari-Inspired Sportcoat
Roger Moore as James Bond, suave British MI6 agent
Cairo, Egypt, August 1977
Film: The Spy Who Loved Me
Release Date: July 7, 1977
Director: Lewis Gilbert
Wardrobe Supervisor: Rosemary Burrows
Tailor: Angelo Vitucci
The Spy Who Loved Me was released 40 years ago today on July 7, 1977. As James Bond himself, the late Sir Roger Moore, noted in his highly entertaining 2012 book Bond on Bond: “The date on the posters read 07/07/77. Jim’s lucky numbers.” The day seems like an appropriate time for BAMF Style to celebrate the uniquely fashionable Bond so charmingly portrayed by Sir Roger during his 12-year tenure as 007.
The Spy Who Loved Me is often considered among the best of Moore’s seven Bond films, praised for the strength of its leads—with Moore in top form as 007 and well-matched with Barbara Bach—and its ability to balance the franchise-defining spectacle with true entertainment and thrills without delving too deeply into silliness. If the grounded and grittier For Your Eyes Only was Moore’s From Russia With Love, then The Spy Who Loved Me was his Goldfinger, offering up iconic Bond moments like the Union Jack parachute and the underwater Lotus dive, memorable characters like Agent XXX and Jaws, an alluring theme song in the form of Carly Simon’s “Nobody Does It Better” (not including the WTF choral version at the finale), and major action set pieces like the final submarine battle.
Arguably the most romantic Bond, Sir Roger found himself in many “instant lothario” moments that may stretch the limits of believability. Bond’s search for a shifty contact named Aziz Fekkesh leads him to Fekkesh’s Cairo home where 007 finds no Fekkesh but instead just Fekkesh’s lovely and evidently lonely girlfriend, Felicca (Olga Bisera).
Felicca throws herself at Bond who, to his credit, actually gives it a moment’s hesitation:
Felicca: You are very suspicious, Mr. Bond…
Bond: I find I live much longer that way.
…before they start making out anyway.
The happy couple’s amorous lip-locking is immediately interrupted by Sandor (Milton Reid), a stocky assassin who—with his partner-in-henchmannery Jaws—is the film’s only link to the 1962 source novel that Ian Fleming himself had all but disowned. Bond pursues Sandor to the top floor, where the two engage in a few rounds of fisticuffs that lead to Sandor dangling over the edge of the roof while desperately clinging to Bond’s tie.
Finally having Sandor right where he wants him, Bond demands to know where he can find Fekkesh. “Pyramids!” is all that Sandor can respond with before Bond swats the man’s hand away, leaving the squat henchman to fall helplessly to his death below in a moment of ruthless efficiency that would be mirrored by Daniel Craig in Quantum of Solace (as well as by Moore himself in For Your Eyes Only).
Unfettered as Sandor’s corpse repaints the pavement below him, Bond straightens his tie and deadpans:
What a helpful chap.
Dear Sir Roger, you will indeed be missed.
What’d He Wear?
Roger Moore’s James Bond is often unfairly maligned for his safari jackets (what fashionable man in the ’70s wouldn’t have had one in his closet?), but this light tan cotton jacket from The Spy Who Loved Me is more along the lines of a safari-inspired sportcoat that nods to both Bond’s British military heritage while incorporating the fashions of the late 1970s.
Safari-inspired clothing is most effective when worn in the proper context, and a hot summer day in Cairo is just the opportunity for Bond to wisely wear this jacket, crafted from cool-wearing cotton with a dignified clean cut.
The traditional image of a safari jacket is more like an unstructured field jacket or bush shirt, and Moore’s Bond certainly wore his fair share of those in The Man with the Golden Gun, Moonraker, and Octopussy. However,this tan cotton jacket is canvassed and structured more like a sport jacket with a single-breasted, two-button front and wide lapels each with a cran Necker or “fish mouth” notch.
The sporty set-in flapped pocket on the left breast coordinates with the straight flaps of the hip patch pockets for a military look, although the lack of a breast pocket on the right keeps the look from looking too much like part of a uniform. Flapped breast pockets themselves are not all that unusual, but the set-in flapped pocket – cut into the cloth rather than sewn on like a patch pocket – is a distinctive feature that Roger Moore also wore on his Donegal tweed suit in Moonraker.
The belted back with its long single vent evokes the sporting image of a half-Norfolk jacket, a popular trend among the 1930s-revival fashions of the ’70s.
The jacket has straight shoulders, accented by epaulettes and roped at the sleeveheads. The epaulettes (shoulder straps) are another military-inspired detail that are standard on most safari jackets. Moore’s epaulettes are sewn at the shoulder and button to the jacket itself about an inch away from the collar. The epaulette buttons match the two buttons on the front of the jacket, which Matt Spaiser suggests are “probably made from the Tagua nut which comes from the seed of a tropical palm” in his excellent exploration of this outfit at The Suits of James Bond.
Rather than cuff buttons, each of Bond’s jacket sleeves is finished at the end with an inch-wide strap around the entire sleeve that adjusts through a buckle, similar to those found on classic trench coats.
With this jacket’s aesthetic in mind, I purchased an unstructured cotton jacket last summer that, in my mind, reflects the spirit – if not the exact details – of Moore’s jacket here and the similar cream jacket he wore in The Man with the Golden Gun. This jacket, the Nautica “Utility Blazer” in a “sandcove” beige-colored 97% cotton and 3% elastic blend, is still available from Nautica’s site a year later for $109.97 (as of July 2017). It lacks the structure and unique details of Bond’s jacket, but dammit if I don’t feel like kicking Sandor’s ass on an Egyptian rooftop when I’m wearing it.
Bond’s mottled light blue shirt in lightweight cotton was likely made by Moore’s preferred shirtmaker, Frank Foster. White mother-of-pearl buttons fasten up the front placket, and the long-pointed collar is very appropriate for 1977. The shirt also has the single-button “Lapidus” tab cuffs that would be a signature of Bond’s shirts in the late 1970s, appearing both in this film and in Moonraker.
Bond’s tie consists of a complex series of thin stripes running from the right shoulder down to the left hip (the “American” stripe direction!) in the following pattern: navy, light blue, navy, taupe, navy, light blue, navy, white, red, white… and repeat! (If you’re looking for a similar tie to add to your own collection, check out The Tie Bar’s Patriot Stripe Tie made from a blend of 80% silk and 20% linen.
The tie is fashionably wide for the 1970s with its large knot filling the space between the shirt’s collar leaves. Roger Moore appears to be wearing the same tie in real life during a May 1977 pre-release publicity event in Paris, seen here with co-star Barbara Bach.
If watchmakers wanted a sign that digital timepieces were now mainstream, The Spy Who Loved Me couldn’t have made it any clearer. Bond was one of the first to sport a digital watch with Roger Moore’s first appearance in 1973’s Live and Let Die, but—only four years later—digital watches had gone from modern to mainstream.
Mass produced digital LED watches made by Texas Instruments were selling for only $10 each in 1976, the same year that The Spy Who Loved Me was filmed. Pulsar, the Hamilton brand of digital watches that Moore sported when it was new in Live and Let Die had lost $6 million and was being acquired by Seiko. Seiko, as it turns out, was also providing the official watches of the Bond series.
In The Spy Who Loved Me, Bond wears a Seiko LC Quartz DK001 with a stainless steel case and bracelet and a digital display. Dell Deaton identified the exact model number—0674-5009—on his blog, James Bond Watches. More information about this comparatively rare watch can also be found at James Bond Lifestyle.
Bond’s jacket in this scene may have been part of a full suit (more on that later), but he wears it here with a pair of slightly contrasting beige flat front trousers with a flared leg… though not nearly as flared as the white gabardine “bell bottoms” he later wears with his navy blazer.
The trousers have a fitted waistband that closes with a hidden hook closure on the extended front tab; there are no belt loops or side adjusters. In addition to the side pockets, there is a jetted back pocket on the right side that closes through a button.
Horsebit moccasin loafers were Bond’s footwear of choice through the 1970s. The shoe was originated by Gucci, and Moore had, in fact, worn Gucci belts and shoes in Live and Let Die until switching to Ferragamo for the remainder of his Bond films at the “urging” of his neighbor who was married to Salvatore Ferragamo’s eldest son and was horrified to see Moore sporting the leather wares of a rival brand in his inaugural Bond film.
Thus, the snuff suede horsebit loafers that he wears with beige ribbed socks with this outfit were likely made by Ferragamo. A small coral strip connects the two gold bits fastened to the vamp of these moc-toe slip-ons.
Fan of these shoes? The lug-soled Rancourt for H. Stockton is available in snuff full-grain Repello suede for $340. Ferragamo still carries horsebit loafers like this $595 pair of Gancio Bit Loafer Shoes, but the “Castoro Brown” suede is a bit darker than Moore wears here.
Later in The Spy Who Loved Me, Moore wears a pair of similar colored slip-ons in tan calfskin with his light brown silk suit.
Despite its role in solidifying the Walther PPK as a household-known weapon, the early entries of the Bond series are surprisingly error-prone when it comes to placing an actual PPK in 007’s hands. (The “PPK” used by Sean Connery in Dr. No was actually the larger Walther PP model, and the same film even swapped in the much different Browning Model 1910 pistol for a close-up shot that required a silencer.)
In The Spy Who Loved Me, James Bond’s signature Walther makes an appearance when he draws it inside Fekkesh’s Cairo house, but is swapped out with a Beretta Model 70 by the time Bond makes his way to the pyramids in search of Fekkesh. Roger Moore holding a Beretta Model 70 also featured on much of The Spy Who Loved Me‘s promotional artwork including the Special Edition DVD cover.
While the Walther PPK was originally designed to be a compact police pistol (Polizeipistole Kurz in German translates to “Police Pistol Short”), the Beretta Model 70 was developed to replace the Beretta M1935 service pistol and was thus slightly, but only slightly, larger than the PPK.
The Beretta Model 70 can be cosmetically differentiated from the Walther PPK due to the slightly extended barrel, the long and rounded trigger guard, and the long ejection port characteristic to Beretta pistols. The size difference is negligible, with the Beretta’s 3.5-inch barrel Beretta barely longer than the PPK’s 3.3-inch barrel. Unloaded, the all-steel Model 70 adds an extra two ounces in weight to the empty PPK’s 21 ounces. (The Beretta Model 71 “Jaguar”—chambered in .22 LR—was constructed from alloy, reducing the weight to only 17 ounces.)
Operationally, the Beretta Model 70 retained the single-action only operation of the M1934 and M1935 pistols while the Walther PPK is a traditional double-action (DA/SA) pistol. Both are chambered for .32 ACP (7.65mm Browning), but the Beretta Model 70 has a slightly higher capacity with a magazine that carries eight rounds to the PPK’s seven. (The larger Walther PP and Walther PPK/S can both match the Beretta’s eight rounds, however.)
According to IMFDB, the Beretta Model 70 made most of its appearances in Italian productions, including the 1976 film Street People (Gli esecutori); interestingly, Matt Spaiser notes on The Suits of James Bond that Street People also featured Roger Moore wearing this same tan jacket (as part of a suit, no less) a year before it appeared in The Spy Who Loved Me.
How to Get the Look
Roger Moore’s fashionable Bond dresses comfortably and contextually appropriate for his adventure in Cairo, seamlessly blending the actor’s preferred horsebit moccasins and tie stripes with a then-fashionable safari-inspired cotton sport jacket.
- Light tan cotton single-breasted 2-button sportcoat with wide fishmouth notch lapels, flapped set-in breast pocket, flapped patch hip pockets, epaulettes, belted sleeve straps (with adjuster buckles), belted back, and single vent
- Mottled light blue lightweight cotton shirt with long collar, front placket, and 1-button “Lapidus” tab cuffs
- Multi-colored wide tie with thin right-down-to-left stripes in navy, light blue, taupe, red, and white
- Beige flat front trousers with fitted waistband, extended front tab with hidden hook closure, side pockets, button-through jetted back right pocket, and flared plain-hemmed bottoms
- Snuff brown suede slip-on moccasins with gold horsebit detail and tall-heeled leather soles
- Beige ribbed socks
- Seiko LC 0674-5009 Quartz DK001 stainless steel digital wristwatch
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Check out the movie.
I had lunch, but… I seem to have missed dessert.
In a story full of his trademark humor, Roger Moore candidly recalls his own arrival in Egypt in October 1976 for inclusion in Bond on Bond:
Then we set off to Cairo, arriving on my birthday, in fact. I walked onto the location set and couldn’t quite understand why there were so many huge tents in the catering area. Catering manager George Crawford walked over, smiling widely, and said it was for my birthday lunch and, what’s more, he’d managed to find lobsters for us all. I looked down at these green creatures he proffered—which were still moving despite having been dead for six weeks! The birthday boy did not have the lobster for lunch and lived to see another year.
From Cairo, it was on to Luxor and quite possibly the worst hotel in the world. The same menu was presented to us every night of our two-week stay. It was the only large hotel in Luxor at the time, and guests seemingly only stayed for one night when they came to visit the temple of Karnak. My nightly meal consisted of what looked and tasted like a camel’s testicle on a bun—it was difficult to figure out which was which.
I was so pleased when director Lewis Gilbert suggested we take na early plane out of on our day of departure, meaning we could have a four-hour stopover in Cairo before flying back to London. Cubby liked to sound of that. “We can go to Shepherd’s Hotel for a slap-up lunch,” he beamed.
At Cairo airport the customs officials—not realized how undernourished we were—said we had to remain airside as we were “in transit” and could not therefore go into the city. But they told us not to worry, they’d prepared a couple of rooms for us to rest in. I said I’d share with Cubby while Lewis had his own room next door. No sooner had we walked in than Cubby proceeded to take his trousers off.
“I’ve got the part, Lewis!” I shouted through the wall.
I enjoy your site very much and look forward to receiving it.
I have been trying to figure out where Jack McCoy/Sam Waterston on Law & Order gets his clothes. Some look a bit Brooks Brothers, but the shirts do not appear to be from BB, and the ties and suits seem better. I also like the coat he wears. Do you have any info?
The tie probably robert talbott.
Great post and an interesting outfit.
Do you know why Fleming despised the book?
Thanks for the comments! I believe he approached it as an experiment, written from the point of view of a young woman who has a chance encounter with Bond when two thugs try to terrorize her in a motel on the Canadian-American border while also exploring the woman’s own memories of her troubled past. (If you’ve already read it, I apologize for telling you what you already know!)
The book is very short and I know that Fleming actually apologized to his publisher for how easy it had been to write; he then tried to block future paperback publications after his “experiment” was ill-received. Part of Fleming’s agreement when selling the rights to the James Bond canon was that only the title of The Spy Who Loved Me be retained for a film adaptation and that the plot must be totally changed (as it was, with the exception of a Jaws-like character).
I have an ongoing thread on Something Awful where we’re all reading through the books, and The Spy Who Loved Me actually received a ton of praise from everyone in it.
The contemporary problem seems to have been that it was nothing like the classic two-fisted pulp action that James Bond was known for, and was instead a sort of proto-feminist novel about a young woman on a trip to find herself after being used and abused by several bad romantic relationships. It even had a controversial scene in which not only does Viv get forced into an abortion, it’s not shown as HER fault and the book never considers her immoral for it. This was still a time when legal abortions were very rare and controversial enough that they could get in the news.