Timothy Dalton as James Bond, British government agent
Bratislava to Vienna, Winter 1986
Film: The Living Daylights
Release Date: June 27, 1987
Director: John Glen
Costume Designer: Emma Porteous
Costume Supervisor: Tiny Nicholls
For a wintry #CarWeek post on the 00-7th of December, let’s look back to Timothy Dalton’s first—and best, in my opinion—adventure as James Bond in The Living Daylights, adapted and greatly expanded from Ian Fleming’s short story of the same name, though the primary plot of Fleming’s story is used up during the pre-credits defection sequence.
After noticing that reportedly a KGB sniper was a beautiful blonde cellist during the opening defection, Bond returned to Bratislava to meet the woman, Kara Milovy (Maryam D’Abo), in person. He persuades her to accompany him to Vienna, evading and eventually out-driving their KGB pursuers in 007’s tricked-out Aston Martin, which had been “winterized” and loaded with gadgets by Q (Desmond Llewelyn), MI6’s esteemed and exhausted quartermaster.
Bond’s Aston Martin V8 is ostensibly the same convertible Volante model he had been driving earlier with a hardtop added, though many experts have noted that the coupe is an entirely different car… which makes more sense. After generations of 007 movies bringing the Goldfinger-era Aston Martin DB5 out of storage for Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig to drive, the 1980s Aston Martin V8 is finally getting some retro-styled love with a confirmed appearance alongside the classic DB5, the DBS Superleggera, and the innovative 2021 Valhalla model in the upcoming No Time to Die, the 25th official James Bond movie and reportedly Daniel Craig’s swan song in the role.
More than 30 years before its return to the Bond franchise, the Aston Martin V8 made its last appearance in The Living Daylights during a fun scene developed by director John Glen where James and Kara are forced to abandon the snowbound sports car and continue their journey to the elegant Palace Schwarzenberg in Vienna via cello… yes, cello.
Glad I insisted you brought that cello.
What’d He Wear?
While fine tailoring is often timeless, casual clothing—even when made by top brands or designers—is often most vulnerable to the trends at the time it was made. In The Living Daylights, Timothy Dalton more successfully balances casual attire that it contemporary without falling victim to fads than he would in Licence to Kill, his subsequent and final adventure as James Bond.
An understated highlight of Dalton’s clothing in The Living Daylights is the leather car coat and layered crew-neck sweater that he wears when absconding from Bratislava with Kara. It could be argued that the larger fit of his clothing betrays its 1980s provenance or that the choice of colors could make the ensemble more memorable, but this casual outfit always struck me as consistent with Dalton’s more serious characterization of James Bond.
Practical and understated, the outfit is something that a spy in Bond’s position may have realistically worn, stylish enough to be suitable for his urban surroundings while rugged enough to keep him warm and comfortable when the mission takes 007 beyond city limits… and national borders.
Made from a supple black leather, Bond’s hip-length car coat has five flat black plastic two-hole sew-through buttons that close on a wide front placket from the bottom hem up to the neck, where the wide standing collar has an additional button that closes through an extended tab on the left side. All of the coat’s edges—including on the pointed pocket flaps, cuffs, and cuff straps—are “swelled” with stitching about a half-inch from each edge.
A swollen seam around the waist line suggests a hidden elasticized drawstring to tighten the fit, separating the slanted chest pockets above the waist line from the flapped patch pockets below the waist line. Each set-in sleeve ends with a strap on the cuff that can fasten onto one of two buttons to adjust the fit over each wrist.
While the details and fit of Bond’s coat may be specific to the mid-1980s time frame, leather car coats are still very much in style and widely available three decades later. Amazon has a few options that can suit your needs:
- BGSD Men’s “Chad” car coat in black lambskin (Amazon): Perhaps the most like Dalton’s coat, though it only has the two outer zip pockets and no flapped hip pockets
- BGSD Men’s “Kyle” car coat in black lambskin (Amazon): Closer to Dalton’s pocket style, though the snap/zipper front differs from Dalton’s button-up front
- Decrum car coat in black lambskin (Amazon): Minimalist take on Dalton’s coat with only two outer zip pockets and a button/zip combination front
- Jos. A. Bank Reserve Collection Walker-length leather jacket in black lambskin (Jos. A. Bank): Dalton-esque in its features, right down to the tab cuffs, though a sleeker, modernized fit
- Reed Men’s 34″ raglan car coat in black lambskin (Amazon): The fit and heft of the jacket resemble Dalton’s, though differs with its raglan sleeves, zip/snap fly front, and lower slash pockets
The coat was auctioned in December 2001 by Christie’s, who listed the garment as “a three-quarter length black leather jacket with concealed zip and button fastening, with black ‘art’ silk lining” and established the maker to be Kenzo, a French luxury brand. Japanese-born designer Kenzō Takada had founded his eponymous fashion house in 1970, expanding from handmade women’s clothing to include designs for men in 1983.
Hardly seen under Bond’s layers is his base layer, a light gray cotton shirt with a point collar and adjustable rounded barrel cuffs that close on one of two buttons. The shirt itself is a relatively pedestrian choice, not unlike this off-the-rack Calvin Klein shirt one could find among the shelves at Macy’s or the digital offerings at Amazon. It’s a far cry from the elegant and unique shirts made by the likes of Frank Foster or Turnbull & Asser for Dalton’s predecessors though it’s perhaps for the best that a finer shirt wasn’t relegated to poking out the top and sides of a heavy sweater à la Jerry Seinfeld.
The soft collar occasionally curls out from where Bond wears it tucked under the crew neck of his sweater. A more sophisticated approach for this dressed-down outfit may have been a shirt with a tall button-down collar like the light gray Brooks Brothers shirt Cary Grant wore for the final act of North by Northwest, as the button-down collar would keep the points in place under the sweater while also providing a more structured neck.
While perhaps one of the more understated outfits of the Bond series, Dalton’s casual cool-weather ensemble from The Living Daylights received renewed attention connected to the release of N.Peal‘s 2019 cashmere collection “inspired by 50 years of Bond”, capitalizing not only on Daniel Craig wearing the brand in Skyfall and Spectre but also the recent focus on heritage Bond style.
“We have recreated this classic fisherman’s rib round neck sweater in 50% cashmere, 50% superfine merino,” wrote N.Peal about their charcoal gray sweater, which Matt Spaiser reviewed on his outstanding site, The Suits of James Bond. (Matt’s expert analysis on this whole outfit can also be read here!)
Dalton’s on-screen sweater is a charcoal gray shaker-stitched ribbed wool sweater with a reinforced crew neck and raglan sleeves. If you’re in the market for a similar sweater but without the expense budget that MI6 allots 007, you want want to consider:
- Fujito Crewneck Ribbed Sweater in charcoal wool/nylon “with Donegal flecking” (No Man Walks Alone): With the weight, ribbing, and raglan sleeves, this is one of the best Dalton-like sweaters I’ve seen, though it’s a bit on the trendy side
- Goodthreads Men’s Lambswool Crewneck Sweater in charcoal lambswool (Amazon)
- J. Crew Factory Crewneck Sweater in “charcoal Donegal” merino wool/nylon blend (J. Crew Factory)
- Patagonia “Off Country” Crewneck Sweater in “forge grey” cotton/polyester blend (Back Country)
- Pendleton Men’s Shetland Crewneck Sweater in “midnight camo” 100% Shetland wool (Amazon)
- Penguin “P55” 100% Lambswool Crewneck Sweater in dark charcoal heather (Penguin)
Bond wears charcoal flannel trousers that are both tonally and texturally coordinated with the rest of the outfit. They have a flat front and a full fit through the legs down to the plain-hemmed bottoms. In addition to the side pockets, the trousers have button-through back pockets that can be seen as he and Kara make their clunky escape from the snowbound Aston Martin. While the coat and sweater cover the waist line of the trousers, we can assume that he wears them like a belt as he does with his other trousers in The Living Daylights; if so, it could be argued that the belt would likely be black to coordinate with the rest of the outfit and his shoe leather.
And speaking of Bond’s shoes… the agent seems to wear a whopping three different pairs across the sequence, though his intended footwear does seem to be a pair of low-slung black leather shoes as he wears in the city-set scenes, always with black socks.
At Kara’s apartment in Bratislava (or “Bratislavia” as she misspells in her cello case), Bond bends over to pick up a smashed photograph of Georgi Koskov (Jeroen Krabbé, who turned 75 on Thursday!), giving us a look at his black leather apron-toe shoes that appear to be slip-on loafers. By the time he arrives in Vienna, he’s stepping out of his and Kara’s hitchhiked ride in a pair of black calf cap-toe oxfords. Further confusion is added by a series of contemporary publicity photos that seem to feature 007 wearing black apron-toe derby shoes.
So, which shoe is it… the moc-toe loafer or the cap-toe lace-up? And wouldn’t either of them have been poor protection for Bond’s feet when he and Kara ditched the Aston Martin in the snow and rode her cello into Austria?
Indeed they would have, and that’s why a third set of shoes were introduced to the mix, a pair of heavy black ankle boots, best seen on screen during the aforementioned cello ride. The uppers are likely a water-resistant leather while the black rubber lug soles no doubt provided Timothy Dalton with better insulation and traction in the wintry weather our heroes encounter between Bratislava and Vienna.
While the filmmakers likely didn’t intend on style bloggers with Blu-ray players to catch the discontinuity of Bond’s footwear, they made sure that the character’s hands would at least keep warm by rigging 007 out with a pair of black soft leather three-point gloves, the moniker referring to the triple stitched lines on the dorsal side of each glove.
The Living Daylights does not prominently feature 007’s timepiece beyond the TAG Heuer wristwatch worn through the opening scenes. According to Watches in Movies, Dalton wore not the character’s signature Rolex Submariner that would reappear in Licence to Kill but instead a Cartier tank watch. While perhaps a surprising choice for the character given his history for sports watches, it makes sense when considering the prominent placement of the Cartier display behind Bond inside Palace Schwarzenberg.
Update! BAMF Style reader Jay has pointed me to Dell Deaton’s exhaustive research that suggests Dalton is indeed wearing a TAG Heuer for these sequence, albeit a stainless steel Professional Diver rather than the black thin-cased TAG Heuer Professional Diver worn during the pre-credits Gibraltar sequence.
James Bond’s signature Walther PPK doesn’t appear on screen during this sequence, though we can assume 007 has it tucked away somewhere under his warm layers. The blowback-operated PPK was developed in the early 1930s as a more compact alternative to the slightly larger Walther PP, both intended for use by European military and police forces.
The PPK grew to early infamy as a sidearm favored by German military officers and was, in fact, used by Adolf Hitler to commit suicide in 1945. The reliable and concealable sidearm took on a second life when Ian Fleming was advised by his friend, Major Geoffrey Boothroyd, to replace the literary James Bond’s .25-caliber Beretta with the comparatively more powerful Walther PPK, becoming 007’s signature weapon from Doctor No forward.
With a few exceptions, such as the Walther PP carried by Sean Connery in Dr. No and the Walther P5 carried by Roger Moore in Octopussy, the PPK was 007’s standard on-screen sidearm for the first 35 years of the Bond cinematic series. While he doesn’t draw or use the PPK during these actual scenes, Timothy Dalton posed extensively with it while wearing this outfit for publicity photos for The Living Daylights. The PPK carried by Dalton’s Bond has a blued finish, dark brown grips, and is ostensibly chambered in the same 7.65mm (.32 ACP) caliber as Bond had carried for more than a quarter-century up to that point.
I had a few optional extras installed…
Like two of the three Bond actors that preceded him, Timothy Dalton’s 007 in The Living Daylights drove an Aston Martin, specifically a 1985 Aston Martin V8 hardtop coupé in a gunmetal gray that recalls the color of the literary James Bond’s favorite Bentley.
According to the movie, this hardtop V8 is the same as the convertible V8 Volante that Dalton drove earlier on screen, merely modified by Q Branch with “winterized” modifications including retractable outrigger skis, spiked Pirelli tires, rocket propulsion, and defense mechanisms ranging from bulletproof windows (“amazing, this modern safety glass!”) and fireproof body to hubcap lasers, heat-seeking missile launchers, and a self-destruct system.
By the mid-1960s, Aston Martin was seeking to take on its increasingly powerful competition by introducing a sports car powered by a V8 engine though the marque’s latest model, the DB6, was incapable of fitting an eight-cylinder engine. After the Milan design house first contracted to design the replacement went out of business, venerated designer William Towns was quickly brought in to design the larger, more modern-looking grand tourer that would be designated the DBS.
The first Aston Martin DBS was produced for the 1967 model year, though the hasty production timeline meant the car was powered with the same 4.0 L straight-six engine as the DB6. Two years later, Tarek Marek’s 5.3 L V8 engine was ready and dropped into a similar-looking car that would be designated the Aston Martin DBS V8 when introduced for the 1969 model year. The six-cylinder DBS (which appeared in the 1969 Bond movie On Her Majesty’s Secret Service) and the DBS V8 were produced concurrently for the next few years until Aston Martin phased out the six-cylinder DBS and renamed its flagship model the Aston Martin V8 in April 1972. The timing was concurrent with David Brown leaving Aston Martin, ending the marque’s practice of naming its cars “DB” until development of the Aston Martin DB7 more than two decades later.
Production of the Aston Martin V8 continued throughout the 1970s with improvements and variations made throughout the decade including the introduction of a “Volante” convertible during the fourth generation, also known as the “Series 4” or “Oscar India” specification, which had been introduced in October 1978 at the Birmingham International Auto Show. The most obvious external visual differentiation is the closed “power bulge” on the bonnet—a graceful evolution of the open hood scoop on the Series 3—and the addition of an integral rear spoiler. On the interior, the cloth seats were replaced with supple leather while wooden trim made its first return since the DB2/4 model in the 1950s.
Only 352 of these Oscar India fourth generation cars were manufactured during the 1978 to 1985 production run, most mated to a three-speed Chrysler “TorqueFlite” automatic transmission though some still used the ZF five-speed manual, attaining top speeds of around 150 mph.
1985 Aston Martin V8 “Oscar India”
Body Style: 2-door coupe
Layout: front-engine, rear-wheel-drive (RWD)
Engine: 5340 cc (5.3 L) Tadek Marek V8 with four Weber 42DCNF90/150 carburetors
Power: 290 hp (216 kW; 294 PS) @ 5500 RPM
Torque: 321 lb·ft (435 N·m) @ 3000 RPM
Transmission: 5-speed ZF all-syncromesh manual
Wheelbase: 102.75 inches (2610 mm)
Length: 183.75 inches (4667 mm)
Width: 72 inches (1829 mm)
Height: 52.25 inches (1327 mm)
The fuel-injected fifth generation of the car, colloquially designated Series 5 or Mk IV, was introduced in January 1986 at the New York Auto Show, visually differentiated from its predecessors by a smoother hood as the streamlined Weber/Marelli carburetor system had no need for the power bulge introduced during the Oscar India series. After 20 continuous years of production, the Aston Martin V8 was retired in 1989 and replaced by the Aston Martin Virage.
At least four Aston Martin V8 cars were used during the production of The Living Daylights, including three hardtop coupes and a Volante convertible that had personally belonged to Aston Martin Lagonda’s then-chairman Victor Gauntlett. You can read more about the on-screen Astons at IMCDB.
How to Get the Look
Consistent with his grounded approach to the role, Timothy Dalton’s darkly subdued and ultimately practical leather-and-wool layers as 007 in The Living Daylights suggests a realistic outfit for a spy in his situation and serves as a forerunner of the dark coats and sweaters that Matt Damon would wear as Jason Bourne decades later.
- Black soft leather hip-length car coat with standing collar, five-button front, slanted chest pockets, patch pockets (with pointed flaps), and set-in sleeves (with single-button semi-strap cuffs)
- Light gray cotton shirt with point collar and rounded adjustable-button barrel cuffs
- Charcoal gray ribbed Shetland wool sweater with crew neck and raglan sleeves
- Charcoal flannel flat front trousers with belt loops, side pockets, button-through back pockets, and plain-hemmed bottoms
- Black leather belt
- Black leather ankle boots with black rubber lug soles
- Black socks
- Black leather three-point gloves
- TAG Heuer Professional Diver stainless steel wristwatch with black bezel and dial on steel bracelet
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Check out the movie. Early versions of the script had planned for this to be a reboot of the series, ending with 007 receiving the details of his mission to Jamaica that would form the plot line of Dr. No, but this concept was evidently abandoned until Daniel Craig took over the role for Casino Royale.
Must be an atmospheric anomaly.