It’s the one question that preoccupies nations on both sides of the Atlantic: Who will be the next James Bond?
The world’s most famous secret agent (pace Archer) is as renowned for his fashion sense as for his spy skills, so as Daniel Craig retires from the role, he leaves big brogues to fill. In a twist on the Cinderella tale, we’d like to place our bets on the next actor to play Bond by judging which of them fills those brogues best…
Or rather, fills the patent formal slip-on or oxford the best. For we are judging which of them looks best in a tuxedo.
A quick Google search reveals 667,000 results for “James Bond tuxedo” and pretty much all of them are beautiful. Many are remarkable: we are thinking particularly of the midnight blue suit Craig sported in Skyfall. While midnight blue has always been an acceptable choice for a dinner jacket, it is nonetheless an unusual one. And Bond was always an advocate of the white DJ. Who is fit to wear the black tie mantle of greatness? Let’s meet the candidates.
Tom Hiddleston is the front-runner when it comes to tailoring. While he’s slimmer than most Bonds, he has height going for him, has Englishness down pat, and will bring his pre-existing throng of fans to the franchise. And the man knows how to dress. Here he wears an Alexander McQueen ensemble with peaked lapels and flapped horizontal pockets. It features a buttonhole and of course, the single button closure traditional to tuxedos. He accessorized it with edgy skull cufflinks and a formal shirt with studs instead of buttons, and proper patent shoes. We are thrilled to see he has chosen a straight tie, rather than a butterfly, to set it off. We find butterfly ties to be too much visually, too rich, with a peaked lapel. We will accept them with a shawl collar, but our puritan heart still yearns for a straight tie (note Daniel Craig’s Bond was a butterfly tie man). Hiddleston has also been known to wear a midnight blue tux, and even once a green velvet one, and is no stranger to the shawl collar. And once, gloriously, a two-button DJ lined in satin with a matching vest. We give Hiddleston a solid ten and a half out of ten for his formalwear Bond-ability.
Henry Cavill is more a butterfly-tie kinda guy. He’s beefier. He’s less subtle, less posh. He’s a throwback to 70’s macho and thus it works for him. A pocket square poufed in a dinner jacket as he wears it is an acceptable option, but we find a breast pocket to be an unnecessary distraction from a good formal look. It’s not sleek, and black tie should be sleek. That, however, is a matter of taste. Cavill’s jacket has vented pockets rather than flapped, which we prefer for sleekness’ sake, and lovely low-swooping peaked lapels. We love the pleated dress shirt he wears with this, with its hidden placket. That, truly, is subtle. In other formal photos you can see the beautiful detailing on the lapels. Hand stitching is an art, and we are pleased to see he respects it. Cavill earns a solid eight out of ten for his formal Bond presentation.
Michael Fassbender knows how to work a low-sloped shawl collar Tom Ford eco-tux. We are huge fans of Marshall Macluhan’s and in this case the medium definitely is the message, as the eco-friendly wool garnered huge publicity from its appearance on the red carpet. Accessorized with butterfly tie (hrm), primly folded pocket square (better than pouf, but not better than nothing), and an eye-catching rose gold watch with a (verboten!) leather strap. Well, we’re on the fence about this look, particularly as the width at the bottom of the lapels tends to add width to the waist. But it is undeniably retro, and for that it earns a special place in our hearts. Seven out of ten for Fassy.
Idris Elba is an iconoclast, always a risky thing to be when it comes to formal wear. As a black man, he’s an outlier in the Bond race, considered “too street” by some, considered the perfect balance of cool and hot by legions of fans. And on the red carpet, at the black tie event, he is the embodiment of that. Classic one-button satin-faced dinner jacket, classic DJ trousers. Classic tie. Black satin shirt.
It’s not for everyone, but in Elba’s case, we will admit it works. It could have turned out very Mafioso, but he makes it work. Would it work for Bond? We aren’t sure, but we are very intrigued by the possibility. Elba gets a nine out of ten from us, inching ahead of Cavill for leaving out the pocket square. We’re all about the restraint when it comes to our secret agents. Nine out of ten for Elba, regardless of how “street” he may be. Oh, wait. Nine point five, for having to deal with that crap.