Agent of Style: James Bond and Turnbull & Asser
The modest $1m budget for Dr. No - the film adaptation of Ian Fleming’s best-selling spy thriller that launched the 007 film franchise in 1962 - meant that the lavish and extensive wardrobe for which subsequent James Bond films became famous was completely absent. Some cast members, including Lois Maxwell, who portrayed Miss Moneypenny, even provided their own wardrobe. ‘The clothes? I had no clothes,’ remarked Ursula Andress, recalling the few garments that made up her wardrobe for her part as Bond’s sidekick, Honey Rider. ‘I had a swimming costume, a bathrobe, a Chinese-style blouse and a pair of trousers, which I lost in a chase scene.’
‘I knew Turnbull & Asser could maintain their excellent standard of tailoring shirts, even under the pressure of film deadlines, changes of measurements and fit of both Bond and his many stunt doubles.’ - Lindy Hemming
Terence Young, Dr. No’s director, however, spared no expense when it came to grooming Sean Connery to play Bond. Young, a former army officer who had served in the Irish Guards, was debonair and rugged. He promptly dispatched Connery to the bespoke London clothiers he and the 007-series producer, Albert R ‘Cubby’ Broccoli favoured, which included Turnbull & Asser – a natural choice given that Bond author Ian Fleming was a customer.
Young also advised Connery to sleep in his tailored garments - including his shirts - so that he’d feel ‘more at ease’ in them. Connery was amazed that his wardrobe felt ‘just as comfortable after a full night’s sleep’, and visiting Turnbull & Asser’s Jermyn Street flagship he admired the distinctive sartorial flourish of his cocktail-cuff shirts - namely, double cuffs which fasten beneath the wrist with mother-of-pearl buttons rather than cufflinks. ‘The cuff itself spreading away from the wrist like a shirt collar,’ noted Nick Foulkes in his book, Turnbull & Asser, Shirtmakers Est. 1885, when describing the detail.
The rest is history. The James Bond ‘signature’ remains in the Turnbull & Asser collection and has proved integral to 007’s wardrobe for more than 50 years, even though times have changed since the Sixties - when Connery’s Bond required maybe a week’s worth of shirts for a Bond film. By the mid-Nineties, as 007 movies became explosive blockbusters, luxury names contributing to the Bond wardrobe were required to produce extensive multiples of garments for scenes involving explosives, retakes and daring stunts.
Lindy Hemming, the Oscar-winning costume designer who modernised Bond’s wardrobe worked closely with Turnbull & Asser to ensure the shirts were up to the challenge of hand-to-hand combat. They also had to remain intact during Casino Royale's Montenegro shower scene, in which Craig’s 007 displays his ‘softer side’ comforting actress Eva Green’s Vesper Lynd.
‘I knew from my close connection to Turnbull & Asser, who I had used for costumes for both theatre and film for many years,’ says Hemming, ‘that they could maintain their excellent standard of tailoring shirts, even under the pressure of film deadlines, the many changes of style and measurements and fit required for James Bond, and his many stunt doubles. Turnbull & Asser is synonymous with Jermyn Street, gentlemen’s style, and so absolutely correct for James Bond.’