Telly Savalas as Ernst Stavro Blofeld, aka Comte Balthazar de Bleuchamp, megalomaniac terrorist
Piz Gloria, Switzerland, December 1969
Film: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
Release Date: December 18, 1969
Director: Peter R. Hunt
Costume Designer: Marjory Cornelius
‘Twas Christmastime at Piz Gloria, when all through the clinic
Not a creature was stirring, not even the agent from MI6.
The Angels of Death were snuggled in bed with care
in hopes that Sir Hilary’s bezants soon would be there.
As of 2020, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service remains the only James Bond movie prominently set during yuletide, as 007 (George Lazenby) disguises himself as genealogist Sir Hilary Bray in order to get close to SPECTRE chief Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Telly Savalas), under the pretense of investigating Blofeld’s claim to the title of Count Balthazar de Bleuchamp.
On the 00-7th of December, let’s see how one of Bond’s most iconic nemeses dresses for the holidays.
What’d He Wear?
Apropos his Alpine environs and his ambitious claim to Bavarian aristocracy, Blofeld tactfully dresses to make Sir Hilary Bray’s acquaintance, sporting several pieces of traditional German clothing (Tracht) including a traditional Trachten jacket known as a janker.
The details of these classic Bavarian tunics share some superficial similarities with the Nehru jacket, a garment that has enjoyed a long pedigree among villains in the Bond series from the eponymous villain in Dr. No through Spectre, in which Christoph Waltz’s Blofeld wears one in navy velvet. Indeed, it seems that the higher a Bond antagonist’s ambition, the higher a chance of seeing him wear a mandarin collar by movie’s end.
This standing collar is a defining characteristic of the Bavarian janker, typically either made from a contrasting cloth or accented with decorative stitching.
Blofeld’s brown wool serge janker is detailed with the latter, a red helix-like pattern embroidered around the short collar that would be mimicked above and below the two jetted pockets over the chest. (The red trim adds a nice holiday-themed touch, though it could just be the sartorial romantic in me looking for festivity in a megalomaniac’s wardrobe.)
These pockets are another classic characteristic of the janker, with either one or two on the chest that can be as minimalist as a set-in jetted pocket or detailed with a flap and button.
Depending on the length of a janker, there may also be a pair of pockets at the hip level. Blofeld’s suit jacket-length janker indeed has a jetted hip pocket aligned with the lowest button on the front, though these appear to lack the red embroidered detailing of the chest pockets.
Janker buttons are typically made from a decorative horn or metal. Blofeld’s five silver crested shank buttons up the front of his janker resemble those on a traditional blazer with two smaller vestigial buttons placed close together on each cuff. He leaves the top button, matched to a slanted buttonhole, unbuttoned for much of his conversation with Sir Hilary.
If not made from authentic mountain sheep-sourced loden, jankers are constructed from heavier woven wool suited to the Alpine climate such as woolen flannel or tweed, though Blofeld’s janker appears to be made from a napped wool serge.
You can read more about jankers, Trachten jackets, Styrian jackets, and other Bavarian attire from High Latitude Style, Robert W. Stolz, and Ludwig & Therese. The latter is a Munich outfitter of traditional Bavarian clothing including an olive wool “Nikodemus” Trachten jacket that shares a few stylistic similarities with Blofeld’s screen-worn garment.
When Blofeld peels off his white lab coat upon entering his office, we see that even his scarlet red loden vest (or waistcoat) is styled to coordinate with his janker with its short mandarin collar and silver-toned metal buttons. Appropriately, this is another piece of traditional German clothing, characterized by its deep, rounded neckline connected at the top with a decorative chain just below the collar. Blofeld’s vest has four “swallow” welt pockets, each named for the drooped opening that resembles the shape of a passerine bird in flight.
These vests are widely marketed in Germany and, via the internet, around the world, from sites like Frankenmuth Bavarian Specialties, Trachten-Quelle, and Ernst Licht, though Blofeld’s waistcoat more closely resembles what the latter markets as the “Prien vest” than the “Miesbacher vest”.
Blofeld wears a white cotton shirt by Frank Fosterwith a point collar and single-button barrel cuffs. His dark brown knitted silk tie adds both textural and tonal coordination with the rest of the outfit until his buttoned-up janker covers up most of what he wears under it.
We only get a brief look at Blofeld’s dark trousers and boots as he enters the office, the rest of his outfit concealed by a lab coat. A behind-the-scenes photo suggests that the trousers are a brown woolen serge to match his Trachten jacket, with enough seen on-screen to tell us that they are likely flat front trousers held up with suspenders and finished with turn-ups (cuffs) on the bottoms.
The silhouette of the boots indicates non-laced ankle boots in dark leather, possibly the same brown suede ankle boots he would wear the following day on Christmas Eve.
How to Get the Look
When in the Alps… dress in the classic Alpine style! At first glance, Blofeld appears to be channeling his fellow Bond villains in theeir Mao suits and Nehru jackets, but a closer look reveals that he indeed wears traditional Tracht like his decoratively stitched janker over a loden waistcoat.
- Brown wool serge Trachten janker with red-embroidered mandarin collar, five crested silver shank buttons, two jetted chest pockets (with red-embroidered detailing), two jetted hip pockets, and vestigial 2-button cuffs
- White cotton shirt with point collar and 1-button cuffs
- Dark brown knitted silk tie
- Scarlet red loden wool Miesbacher Trachten vest with short mandarin collar, decorative chain across the neckline, five-button front, and four welted “swallow” pockets
- Brown wool serge flat front trousers with turn-ups/cuffs
- Dark suspenders
- Dark brown suede ankle boots
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Check out the movie, one of my favorites from the Bond franchise and a particularly suitable watch for 2020 with its themes of viruses and vaccines.
The methods of the great pioneers have often puzzled conventional minds.