No one can deny that James Bond has a sleek, effortless style that is enviable to so many. But he’s not the only one with a sharp wardrobe on set. In this article, we’re joined by Oxford shirt retailer CT Shirts to look at the best of Bond villains for fashion.
10. Max Zorin — A View to A Kill
Max Zorin, played by ChrisopherWalken, was rocking the bleached blond locks way before Skyfall introduced us to Raoul Silva. Still, the look proved to be simultaneously slick and strange, and a stark contrast to Bond’s then-darker locks.
As crazy as Zorin was, his outfits were on-point. 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.
Is this contrast a warning in and of itself? 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
We’re staying with suits as we look at Live and Let Die’s villain, Dr Kananga. 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.
Like Zorin, Kananga keeps his look sharp and put-together. 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
The villain of Licence To Kill was arguably one of the few to actually beat Bond in terms of fashion! 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).
But, unless you count the large iguana, Sanchez did somewhat neglect to accessorise…
7. Dr Julius No — Dr. No
The origin of the plain ‘evil doctor’ look is Dr Julius No. 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.
The choice to wear cream and ivory is a little strange and adds to the discomfort of a villain. 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.
The metal hands are certainly an interesting choice too. With that death-grip of his, maybe buttons were out of the question when getting dressed on a morning…
6. Alec Trevelyan — GoldenEye
Alec Trevelyan, portrayed by Sean Bean, is a clear ‘dark version’ of James Bond himself. 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.
Trevelyan’s outfits are often lacking any contrast. 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
Le Chiffre’s obvious desire for money is shown through his choice of clothing. 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
You can’t really go around with a golden gun and dress shabby now, can you? 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
Silva’s fashion sense is a little bizarre to say the least; a loud printed shirt together with a cream colours jacket. 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.But, worn on Silva, it sends us all a message. 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 is a clear case of a villain’s look working as an opposite of Bond’s. 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.
The movie does have a few costume changes for Silva too. In later scenes, when the two men finally fight on equal ground, 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
No matter how much you might like gold, you won’t hold a candle to Auric Goldfinger. 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.
Does Goldfinger’s wardrobe hold any hidden meaning or connotations? Perhaps not. 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 StavroBlofeld — 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
As Bond’s nemesis, Blofeld doesn’t bother to try and outdo the double-oh agent in the fashion department. No, Blofeld is a villain who is quite happy to be utterly different from 007, from manner to fashion. Ernst StavroBlofeld sports an iconic Mao suit in a boring shade, echoing the rather listless shaded Nehru jacket 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.
What else can we glean from the Mao suit? 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.