© 2024 WUTC
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Bond Donned A Suit, A Stylish Suit


And if you're just joining us, you're listening to WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Guy Raz. Fifty years ago, a film franchise ushered in a new era of action, adventure, and of course, style.


RAZ: James Bond. Men wanted to look like him, and women also wanted men to look like him.


SEAN CONNERY: (as James Bond) Am I properly dressed for the occasion?

YVONNE SHIMA: (as Sister Lily) Quite suitable.

RAZ: His manner, debonair. His suits, impeccable.


JACK LORD: (as Felix Leiter) Where were you measured for this, bud?

CONNERY: (as James Bond) My tailor in Savile Row.

RAZ: Well, as it turns out, the actors playing James Bond have never been outfitted by Savile Row tailors. The first Bond tailor was located just off Savile Row at a place named for its founder, Anthony Sinclair Limited. And the current managing director there is bringing back the early James Bond fashions for the modern man. His name, Mason. David Mason.

DAVID MASON: A lot of our clients are demanding replicas of those original suits.


CONNERY: (as James Bond) Shocking.

RAZ: Anthony Sinclair Limited is a bespoke tailoring business.

You would probably understand better as custom.

And back in the 1950s, the shop had a number of former British army officers as clients, one of them being the director of the first Bond film, Terence Young.

MASON: Part of his job was to knock a young Scotsman into shape and prepare him for the role.

RAZ: Sean Connery was hardly the suave, debonair type at the time. He was a former bodybuilder, so Connery felt more comfortable in T-shirts than tailored suits.

MASON: He taught him how to talk, how to walk, how to eat, what to drink. And the icing on the cake was the bespoke finery. He was a huge man with 46-inch chest, 33-inch waist. So there was an extraordinary drop, which makes it quite a challenge to tailor an elegant suit.

RAZ: But what Sinclair created ended up becoming hugely influential. Out went the heavy fabrics and boxy cuts favored by well-dressed Englishmen at the time and in came lightweight fabrics, fitted and tailored. That's because Bond creator Ian Fleming had spent a great deal of time in Jamaica.

MASON: And for his hero, who could be deployed to an exotic location at a moment's notice, he needed go anywhere, do anything clothing.

RAZ: And that's just what happened in the first James Bond film, 1962's "Dr. No."

MASON: The first thing that you will see of Bond is not his face or his body. You see his hands. He's dealing cards in the casino playing baccarat.


MASON: And you see a beautiful silk turned back cuff on the sleeve of his midnight blue evening suit.


UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: (as Character) I need another thousand.

MASON: Then you see a reverse angle shot. You see the shorter collar. And it is not until his opponent in the game asks who the check should be made payable to that he answers...


CONNERY: (as James Bond) Bond. James Bond.

MASON: And then you see his face for the first time and the full evening suit, which became, of course, the definitive look for all James Bonds since that opening moment.

RAZ: What has been your favorite Bond suit of all time?

MASON: Without question, most people's favorite, and mine, is the three-piece Prince of Wales suit that he wore in...


SHIRLEY BASSEY: (singing) Goldfinger...

MASON: Killer suit. Absolutely fantastic. And the way it was introduced in the film was very special. He just recovered from sedation aboard Goldfinger's private jet.


CONNERY: (as James Bond) Oh. That explains the humming.

MASON: And he was unshaven.


CONNERY: (as James Bond) I would like to arrive more appropriately dressed.

MASON: And he went to the bathroom to shave and to change, and he emerged wearing this magnificent piece of work.


HONOR BLACKMAN: (as Pussy Galore) You like close shaves, don't you?


BASSEY: (singing) But don't go in.

RAZ: And David Mason has now reproduced those suits from "Goldfinger" and "Dr. No" for a new Bond exhibit at the Barbican. It's an art center in London. And he's even willing to make one for you and me.

MASON: A bespoke suit would run in your currency at $5,000 plus.

RAZ: OK. Maybe not for us. But if you really want to dress like James Bond, David Mason is at your service.


RAZ: Do your suits come with, you know, like, cufflink darts or dagger shoes or any poisonous things embedded in them?


MASON: No, but it could be arranged. We've not had any requests yet.

RAZ: You could arrange that.

MASON: Of course. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.