Hello everyone, and welcome to The Rakish Man. My name is Léon Philippe and I am here with all the right responses to your sartorial queries. I’ve poured my first glass of Grand Marnier, so let’s get started.
I’ve decided to dress up as that daring rake James Bond for Halloween. But I can’t decide which James Bond to go as. The Brioni-clad Pierce Brosnan version? Daniel Craig in tight Tom Ford suits? Or the classic Connery-in-Conduit-cut? Which do you think would make the best costume?
-Covert in Connecticut
Thank you for your query. First of all, never use brand names to refer to suits. A gentleman always has his suits custom-made and is therefore completely oblivious to the capricious winds that carry off-the-peg brands to the forefront of fashion. If you mean to refer to the Tom Ford look, for instance, you can describe “the more structured, bolder construction favored by many athletes.” Or for Brioni, “luxurious Roman tailored favored by fake-tanned moguls making a late-life career change into demagogic politics.”
Now, back to your query. The iterations of Bond you describe are, of course, worthy entries into the Bond lexicon and no one would criticize you for choosing any of them. But allow me to suggest a different tack, which I think better fulfills the true spirit of Halloween, and the true spirit of Bond: the gorilla costume.
The costumes of Octopussy have occasioned much discussion, including this exploration of the “infamous” clown costume. But to me, Bond reaches his apex as a gorilla. As villains fiddle with a bomb in a train car, Bond watches them undetected from inside his simian disguise. This is truly peek Bond.
Even in this more casual outfit, the sartorial principles of tailored clothing are observed. As you can see in the picture above, the smooth, “wet” texture of the gorilla face contrasts perfectly with the matte texture of the gorilla hair, which I assume would have been applied to the costume by hand to render the fur more supple and durable. The fit is generous, both to offer spacious comfort to hiding spies and also to facilitate quick entry and exit. This feature comes in handy, as Bond ends up needing to make a quick escape before a turbaned villain chops the gorilla’s head off.
Finally, it’s worth noting that even in those few seconds inside his gorilla suit, Bond impregnates the costume with gravitas. What for a lesser hero could have become a ridiculous circus act is instead a moment of dramatic tension. The natty spy escapes not only with his head, but also with his dignity. The scene therefore breathes new life into that whorey old chestnut that it’s not what you wear, but how you wear it.
You have quite a challenge ahead of you, Covert, should you choose to accept it. Anyone can find a gorilla costume - although finding one of the same construction quality of Bond’s may be a challenge. And anyone could put on a tuxedo and carry around a martini glass and call themselves Bond. But not everyone can wear a gorilla costume like Bond. That is the S sense of true style, Covert - maintaining your identity even as circumstances force you behind the most ludicrous of masks. Although if you want to cheat and carry around a martini glass with your gorilla costume just so everyone gets it, I will allow it as a harmless bending of the rules between friends.
By the by, if you already have a Brioni tuxedo that you were considering wearing as Brosnan Bond, might you consider trading it for the gorilla costume that I have? The costume is vintage, and far surpasses anything you would find in a mall today. I even have a martini glass that I could include with it as well - I was thinking of going as Drunk Harambe but you would do the costume more justice as Gorilla Bond. And I’m sure I could find use for the Brioni tuxedo. Anyway, just a thought.
Ed. note: If you have a query for The Rakish Man, please send an email to david at nomanwalksalone dot com and I will make sure he sees it.