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Review: Skyfall

Starring: Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Javier Bardem
Directed By: Sam Mendes


James Bond thunders back to our screens in what feels like a reboot of the 50 year old franchise with the same actor. This is not the 007 who calmly waits for a man to bleed to death before stealing his Harrington; the brutal cold bastard of Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace has mellowed considerably and can even manage a quip or two. Whether this development will delight or disappoint is a matter of personal taste. One thing is certain however; Bond has never scrubbed up better. Tom Ford now exists to make Daniel Craig suits.

Bringing new costumer Jany Temime on board was a smart idea. She has infused Skyfall with a stylish, European vibe of fashionable designer dresses, dramatic Swarovski decorated evening gowns and geek chic via Dries Van Noten. For the man himself a modern cut of single breasted, two and three button Britishness. In context these costumes feel real. Silva’s (Javier Bardem) long leather coat might be a villain’s indulgence, but Bond looks immaculate and attainable; far from Savile Row though instilled with the swagger of 1960s cool. Even if Craig – here at his broadest – is in danger of bursting from the fabric on occasions, the vents always hang straight and providing he remembers to breathe in, the top button just about closes comfortably.

Daniel Craig’s suits for Skyfall are deliberately slim fitting (spying those telltale creases some might argue too tight) with a narrow lapel and low trouser rise. He wears four suits in total: light grey sharkskin, dark grey check, grey pinstripe, dark blue silk, plus midnight blue tuxedo with black shawl collar.

Quite where Skyfall fits in James Bond’s own narrative is not altogether clear. Really we could discount both Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace and call this Craig’s first outing. The character we knew from those two films is barely there. Of course the suggestion is that several years have passed so formerly inexperienced Bond is now a seasoned agent. His relationship with M (Judi Dench) is paramount to Skyfall, though for all the on-screen interaction he has shared with her so far it feels a little forced. The only way Bond could conceivably care that much for M’s fate is if we compile all the previous films into his mission dossier, which makes no sense for many reasons. Perhaps it is best not over think this detail, as has always been the case whenever the series gets rebooted (with a different actor). However it is a shame we do not get to see this Bond grow as an agent; it almost feels like Casino Royale was a waste a time.

If this feels like nitpicking it is only because Skyfall is such a polished ride. Questions about backstory and timeline are going to mean zip to most people. Skyfall swipes the best and most established Bond elements from every actor’s tenure and combines them into a film so satisfying as a stand alone story it’s nearly impossible to envisage how it could be improved. Bond can crack heads with the best of them (like Lazenby), faces a larger than life villain (Moore), embarks on a personal mission (Dalton), conquers at least one colossal set-piece (Brosnan) and relies on minimal gadgets (Connery). He has finally established his look too. After two terms Tom Ford is Craig’s tailor just as Anthony Sinclair was Connery’s. Wisely Jany Temime has kept his costumes to a minimum. Skyfall is not a fashion show; Bond changes clothes when he changes location. His suits do not shout symbolism although do relate subtly to his surroundings. The dark grey pinstripe in London for example; Bond as the city gent back among establishment bean-counters.

In some instances up to 60 copies of the same suit were made for Craig and his stunt doubles by Tom Ford’s selected tailors in Italy. It is no spoiler to say that the light grey sharkskin probably falls into the category of ‘most trashed’ in the film.

Costume tells Bond’s tale just as much as the stubble that appears then disappears from his chin. Pre-credits he wears a grey sharkskin suit (actually ill-advised for Craig’s pale complexion), then hits the bottle in baggy leather flight jacket and untucked island shirt. For Bond this is as bad as Superman losing his cape – he is almost unrecognisable. Back in London, an unseen trip to Selfridges then stop off at Crockett & Jones and everything is okay again. Attire is so important to Bond that this is when he seems most ‘back’ to us; never mind that he still cannot shoot straight, just look at that midnight blue tuxedo. Incidentally this is the only time Bond wears a blue tuxedo that is actually shot to look blue rather than deep black under artificial lights (as evidenced on the UK poster). James Bond is no dandy, but the sixties London vibe paradoxically keeps his wardrobe fresh to a contemporary audience.

If ever a Bond film was a grower for hardcore fans it is Skyfall. It ticks all the boxes casual fans expect yet may be too unpredictable and, somewhat ironically, not daring enough for those who felt the groundwork laid by Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace was taking the series somewhere really special. As with all 007’s best adventures, years of reflection and umpteen TV repeats will be the real tester. If we can all stomach Moonraker for the tenth time on Boxing Day, Skyfall could well turn out to the most enjoyable Bond film yet.

Skyfall is released on 26th October in UK and 9th November in U.S.

© 2012 – 2014, Lord Christopher Laverty.


  • Qwon

    One thing I notice while watching the trailer is matching shirt color & pocket square color–and I don’t mean white shirt & white pocket square but when he’s matching his light blue shirt with the pocket square of same tone (like 0:46 from the trailer I wonder what are other’s thoughts on that.

    • Chris Laverty

      This is a good point and very noticeable with the light blue shirt. Matching your shirt and pocket square is generally frowned upon, though funnily enough when I order custom made shirts there is always the option to order a pocket square made of the same fabric. Be interesting to know more fans’ thoughts after seeing the finished film.

    • Bart

      With the exception of white pocket square/white shirt, I believe the pocket square should never match the shirt colour.

    • Drew

      I was under the impression that a pocket square could be in the same color family as the shirt, but not the exact same shade as the shirt.

      But in this context, with Bond being as well-dressed as he is, I think if you know the rules, you can bend them without repercussion.

  • Thomas

    Interesting that the midnight blue dinner suit appears as blue. I wonder if this was a deliberate as you say or a function of Skyfall being the first Bond film to be shot digitally. Midnight blue began as an affectation for dinner suits then gained popularity in film work because it would appear black under tungsten lighting, yet subtle details of texture would be recorded where true black fabric would look featureless. The Arri Alexa doesn’t respond to light exactly as film stock does and the blue hue of the fabric may have been an unintended registration.

    • Matt Spaiser

      I never thought of the midnight blue dinner suit to be an affectation. It’s what many Savile Row tailors prefer. It truly does look blacker than black under artificial light, and of course outside at night. Daniel Craig’s Dinner Suit in Skyfall looks darker in the film than it does in some of the promotional materials, but it looks more like navy than a true midnight blue. A navy dinner suit is an affectation, but midnight blue is not.

  • patuxxa

    Have just got back from watching the movie and frankly found it the best Bond in ages and by far Craig’s best.

    Clothes-wise, I also very much enjoyed Q’s wardrobe. I’d love to find out the brand of that brown cardigan he wears later in the film; I’d totally nick it for myself!

    • Max

      Same here. Would love to know where that brown cardigan is from. Lovely texture and it really stood out.

      Really did like Javier Bardem’s character’s first outfit as well.

  • Kristian Lin

    Just had the chance to see the film here in America. I was wondering what you thought of Q’s outfits. At MI6 headquarters, he wears what looked to me like a cardigan sweater that makes him look schoolboyish. However, when he meets Bond in the museum, he’s in a zip-up sweatshirt that gives him a shabby-chic sort of look. Bond doesn’t initially seem to know that he’s talking to the new Q; he gets up to leave in the middle of the conversation. The way Q is dressed, he probably figures he’s talking to some chatty art student. What do you make of what he’s wearing?

    • Chris Laverty

      I think Q is wearing a black velvet lounge suit in that scene with 007 in the museum (I may be wrong). The Mod style parka over the top compared to Bond’s more traditional overcoat is intentionally intended to create a contrast between the two men; new and old, brains and brawn. I liked Q’s look throughout the film, though felt it a little on the nose at times. One thing’s for sure, Whislaw will become a poster boy for nerd chic.

    • theperfectnose

      @ Chris Laverty, Re: Becoming a poster boy for..He already is. Check out his wardrobe on the British series ‘The Hour’. He’s more of a working-class-ascended-character there so you see the occasional plaid/ heathered country jacket. The sort of Grandpa style that gets the hipsters salivating XD

    • Chris Laverty

      I can’t recall if Bond has a separate tracksuit or not, but he does wear a blue Joint Services Clothing PTI jacket for the training scenes. Perhaps the pants were made to match? Honestly I’m not sure.

  • Charlotte

    I for one am in favour of Daniel Craigs version of Bond – he’s gruffer, certainly buffer and a little more human – but I’m also relieved that the production team haven’t moved away from the Bond tuxedo (like superman’s cape? – love it!). Tom Ford knows what looks good on film. His own foray into film direction, A Single Man, featured not only beautiful clothes but also great architecture – the Schaffer House by John Lautner.

  • Qwon

    Another thing I noticed after finally watching the movie last week is that he’s unbuttoned sleevse in the beginning of the movie.

    At the opening as Bond is holding a gun in the dark hallway, you can clearly see first buttons on his sleeves are unbuttoned. I couldn’t really tell for the rest of scenes in Istanbul because he was constantly moving, but it seemed they were kept unbuttoned in the glimpse.

    Now I know the functional buttons on the sleeve (a.k.a. “surgeon’s cuffs”) are generally the sign of better quality of the suit, most likely a bespoke. What I was curious was its intention. Why would Bond unbutton the first one on his sleeves? To be more functional? I am curious about other’s thoughts because this really stuck with me while watching the rest of the movie over two hours.

    • Chris Laverty

      I’m inclined to think that the unbuttoned jacket cuff was just another method employed by Jany Temime of making Craig’s Bond stand out as unique and, in her words, “iconic for 2012”. Other touches include the tab collar, matching pocket square and shirt, and obviously blue dinner suit. I do not particularly like these touches, they seem to betray the essence of the character (i.e. classic, not flashy; clandestine not conspicuous), but I can’t deny that throughout most of the film Bond does look enviably sharp – as of course he should.

    • Drew

      Leaving one of the functional buttons, in my understanding, is to very subtly show that the sleeve buttons are not just sewn on.

  • Qwon

    Another thing I remember is that Mallory (Ralph Fiennes) seemed to be the only character in the film that who wears suspenders/braces. I remember from “The Suit” by Nicholas Antongiavanni arguing that suspenders should be reserved for more authoritative or management position at the workplace, like Gordon Gecko. I wonder Mallory’s position as the authoritative position in M16 is the reason behind such sartorial choice.

  • Jimmy

    James Bond did again in his recent movie for which he’s usually famous, first saving the world from bad guys mad second stunned people with his killing dressing. But credit must have to give both costume designer Jany, and Tom Ford. I love the way Jany updated Bond from his creative idea, i just love the idea of pea coat and particularly Q’s attire. I recently viewed her interview in which describe the whole idea behind selecting outfit for Ben, she said that she wanted to give Q a looks which Bond never ever dream to want. Tom Ford is designed some fantastic suits including the opening chasing scene gray suit, reportedly the gray suit Bond wears was the 81st final sample. That’s truly incredible! By the way thanks for your post 🙂

    Daniel Craig Peacoat

  • Pete Mylonas

    I tried to search tom ford suits and I couldn’t find anything. Do you know if there are suit brands that are similiar to tom ford?

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