A closer look at the fashion sense of James Bond villains

James Bond Villians

When fashion in James Bond movies is mentioned, it’s likely that you’ll think of the suave agent himself. From Sean Connery’s movies in which he sported his own tailor’s handiwork, to the Italian made-to-measure Brioni suits worn by Daniel Craig, 007 is definitely one of the best-dressed characters to grace the big screen. However, it’s only fair that a well-dressed hero has a well-dressed enemy.

Throughout the movie franchise, the villains have stood toe-to-toe with the Secret Service agent in the fashion stakes. Here, alongside CT Shirts, who stock a wide range of slim fitting shirts, we take a look at the top ten Bond villains according to Screen Rant and dip into their wardrobes to find out…

10. Max Zorin — A View to A Kill

Max Zorin, played by Christopher Walken, sported bleached hair long before Skyfall’s Raoul Silva. Still, the look proved to be simultaneously slick and strange, and a stark contrast to Bond’s then-darker locks. Zorin’s outfits didn’t reflect his madness though. Although he sports a black double-breasted dinner suit in direct contrast to Bond’s white single-breasted dinner suit in a rather obvious show of opposites, Zorin’s general style is quite subdued and, dare we say it, normal.

Could, or perhaps should, this have been a warning sign? It almost seems like the man is trying just a little too hard to look unsuspicious. You could, perhaps, draw the same feeling from Zorin’s accessories during the Royal Ascot scene, where the villain has a white carnation tucked in his suit lapel. White carnations are said to represent faithfulness and innocence, which certainly cannot be attributed to a man like Zorin, who is barely loyal to his own men!

9. Dr Kananga — Live and Let Die

Staying with suits, we turn our focus to Dr Kananga in Live and Let Die. The drug lord continues the Bond villain trend of being just as well-dressed as Bond, but with a few key notes that are just enough for the viewer to feel uneasy. Similar to Zorin, it seems as though Kananga purposely keeps a subtly-sharp dress sense. He reserves his crazier attire choices when under the guise of “Mr Big”. Mr Big, a front for Dr Kananga, spends the movie serving the purpose of distracting Bond from Dr Kananga, despite being Dr Kananga himself. From his bright red jacket choices to his later red-shirt and white-jacket combo, everything about Mr Big is a bright, loud distraction.

8. Franz Sanchez — Licence To Kill

For some, the villain in Licence To Kill, was better-dressed than the hero! With Dalton’s Bond sporting some looser-fitting styles, Franz Sanchez also opts for the more casual tone, but with a decidedly more fitted air about him. He wears a number of outfits throughout the film, ranging from a blue suit jacket and white shirt combo, to a tan jacket and blue shirt choice. Interestingly, blue suits and grey suits are noted by some to be a good choice to send out a message of loyalty and dependability, highlighting Sanchez’s own value in those traits (and his paranoia of disloyalty in his men).

It must be staid that there are a lack of accessories on Sanchez’s outfits, unless you include the rather large iguana on his shoulder in some scenes…

7. Dr Julius No — Dr. No

Dr Julius No is well-known as the original Bond villain and has a plain but effective ‘evil doctor’ look. The unembellished, cream-coloured Nehru suit offers little other distraction, giving the doctor a sharp, efficient look befitting the villain. The Nehru jacket was notably once worn by those who had a high social stature, which is perhaps a sad reflection on Dr No’s own backstory as being an ‘unwanted child’. He has built himself into his own semblance of high status, despite his own perceived rejections.

By donning cream and ivory, there are mixed messages sometimes sent. He’s the villain of course, but he’s wearing a colour linked to calmness and relaxation. Or, more interestingly, perhaps it echoes the idea of being in an ivory tower; that is, that Dr No’s choice of garments shows how he feels he was rejected by the world. His shiny, metal hands certainly add something to his look. With that death-grip of his, maybe buttons were out of the question when getting dressed on a morning…

6. Alec Trevelyan — GoldenEye

For some, Sean Bean’s rendition of Alec Trevelyan is actually the dark version of Bond. It can be seen as a sort of answer to the ‘what if’ wondering of the potential for Bond to go rogue. Because of this, Trevelyan has a similar fashion sense as bond, with a penchant for black suits and combat fatigues. He’s meant to match Bond in every way, both in intellect and in skill, having been trained the same way as Bond. Unlike other villains, this one’s obviously armed, and he knows all the tricks Bond knows.

Everything is dark in his outfits — his jacket, his gloves, his boots, even his shirts only vary between black and grey. Bond usually has something to contrast within his clothes (usually his choice of white shirt). His mournful colour scheme could very well be a hint towards one of the former Double-Oh agent’s goals; to avenge the death of his parents.

5. Le Chiffre — Casino Royale

The suits worn by Le Chiffre in Casino Royale show off a love for money. Although he dons the trademark ‘all black’ colour scheme of villains, the quality of his suit tells us something more. According to costume designer Linda Hemming, Le Chiffre’s choice of outfit is all about showing off without being noticed. He’s a man who wants to succeed without being seen, who wants his genius applauded, but not too loudly. These two desires would usually be at odds, but they make for a sleek suit of all black to hide away, but lavish velvet to show his wealth.

4. Francisco Scaramanga — The Man With The Golden Gun

Could you really own a gold gun and not dress well? Francisco Scaramanga has an unnerving sense of fondness for Bond, and more than a drop of rivalry and desire to prove himself the better killer. These things reflect in his clothes. His outfits seem determined to state ‘anything you can do, I can do better’, from his shiny choice of firearm to his slick white suit. Interestingly, Scaramanga meets his demise in China, where white can be seen as the colour of death and funerals; coincidence, or foreshadowing?

3. Raoul Silva — Skyfall

If Silva’s memorable printed shirt and cream jacket combo was worn on anybody else, it would look more than odd. Coupled with the bleached blond hair harkening back to previous Bond villain Zorin, you’d be forgiven for calling this a fashion disaster at first glance.

However, it sends us all a message when it’s worn on Silva. Something along the lines of: I am the villain. I’m not quite stable on any level. I thought this shirt was a great choice this morning.

Again, this look is a contrast to Bond’s look. Yes, he’s wearing a suit as Bond does, but it’s not by any means well put-together in a traditional sense. The colours contrast Bond’s usual go-to darker shades, the addition of prints is very anti-Bond, and it almost seems like Silva is mocking Bond on every level. That’s certainly the message the rogue former agent is going for, as his entire scene wearing this suit is played out as a mockery of Bond. At this stage in the film, Silva does not think Bond is his equal in any way, and he’s letting him know it. Not only does Silva feel confident that he has outsmarted Bond, he thinks he was a better agent, a smarter man, and a better shot.

When the two men finally fight on equal ground nearer the close of the movie, we see Silva switch to darker shades and combat gear more akin to Bond’s own look, as he finally starts to admit Bond’s given him a run for his money and forced him to step out from behind his henchmen and get his hands dirty.

2. Auric Goldfinger — Goldfinger

You’re bound to love Auric’s gold-coloured everything attitude if you love the colour gold. Dressed in silk suits or woollen golfing attire, you can be sure there’s going to be a shade of gold or close-enough-to-gold brown somewhere on this villain’s garment choices. Color Meanings says wearing too much gold can give off a sense of ‘being miserly, unkind, lacking generosity and kindness or being over-ambitious’. Check, check, and check.

But, is there a deeper meaning? There might not be one. The man’s called Goldfinger. He killed a woman by dipping her in gold. Sometimes, a man wears gold because a man likes gold.

1. Ernst Stavro Blofeld — From Russia With Love, You Only Live Twice, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Diamonds Are Forever, For Your Eyes Only, Never Say Never Again, and Spectre

Blofeld is Bond’s returning enemy. He doesn’t prescribe to the usual ‘your suit, but better’ look many Bond villains go for. No, Blofeld is a villain who is quite happy to be utterly different from 007, from manner to fashion.

Instead, Ernst Stavro Blofeld sports an iconic Mao suit in a boring shade and echoes the rather listless shaded Nehru jacket that was worn by Dr No before him. In fact, Blofeld’s most recent incarnation, portrayed by Christoph Waltz, would go on to sport a Nehru jacket of his own. Apparently, the new Blofeld’s simple outfit was to ensure all the spotlight for his menace were firmly on his mind, not his physical look. Here is a villain who isn’t going to beat Bond with guns or fists, so he doesn’t need to frighten or intimidate with his look. He isn’t required to engage Bond in a battle-of-the-suits, and more importantly, he doesn’t care to.

Does the Mao suit tell us anything else? There’s been many commentaries on the Bond villain’s choice of clothing, with many people quick to point out the link between Mao suits and Communism. BondSuits.com keenly points out, however, that Blofeld wears a decidedly western white cuff shirt under his Mao jacket, showing his ties to the East aren’t wholly strong.

 

Top image: Sony Pictures

Sources:

https://screenrant.com/every-james-bond-villain-ranked-worst-best/
https://www.primermagazine.com/2018/learn/james-bond-clothing-brands
https://www.bondsuits.com
https://www.hunker.com/13426248/meaning-of-white-carnation-flowers
https://www.bizjournals.com/bizjournals/how-to/growth-strategies/2014/12/why-the-color-of-your-suit-matters.html
https://www.bourncreative.com/meaning-of-the-color-beige/
https://www.color-meanings.com/color-symbolism-in-chinese-culture-what-do-traditional-chinese-colors-mean/
https://www.color-meanings.com/gold-color-meaning-the-color-gold/
https://www.christies.com/features/How-to-dress-like-James-Bond-7042-1.aspx
https://www.newstatesman.com/2015/07/no-mr-bond-i-expect-you-die-article
http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/20151007-from-red-guards-to-bond-villains-why-the-mao-suit-endures

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