They Don't Make James Bond Coats Like This Anymore (but They Really Should)

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Photo credit: United International Pictures
Photo credit: United International Pictures

Pierce Brosnan's 007 tosses a henchman into a newspaper printing press. His body is presumably mangled beyond all recognition. Newly minted front pages are smeared with blood. This is a properly horrific turn of events. But in Tomorrow Never Dies, it's just another opportune moment for a dad pun: "They'll print anything these days".

Photo credit: Keith Hamshere
Photo credit: Keith Hamshere

Lines like these are emblematic of the Brosnan years; an era of Bond that was campy, silly, and peppered with double entendres that ran from the groanworthy to the absolute gutter (upon bedding Denise Richards' Dr Christmas Jones, Bond purrs The World Is Not Enough's final and most absurd line: "I thought Christmas only comes once a year"). This womanising war criminal has proven divisive as we grapple with Bond's past in the modern world. He changed with Daniel Craig, and he continues to change. He probably needs to. But one thing can stay the same. That's the coats.

Specifically this one: a long, grand, rigid, Cadbury brown overcoat Bond wears as he lands in Hamburg during the opening half of Tomorrow Never Dies. It is wholly impractical for 007's day job. But therein lies the charm of Brosnan's era (and his subsequent wardrobe) as part of the wider Bondverse. This was a playground idea of an MI5 operative. It is also a foil to the most recent incarnation, in which Craig's Bond is a more serious man with more serious clothes for a very, very, very serious job. Even the No Time To Die film posters depict the leading man in practical, purpose-built combat knitwear. But not Brosnan. This 007 still maimed down-on-their-luck henchmen forced into a life of crime. Though he did so in boxy suits, and pitch black field jackets, and Succession overcoats.

It points to a particular Nineties aesthetic that the Brosnan years embodied. For just as tailoring trends went all Wall Streety and American Psycho, Bond followed suit – and it's something that designers have frequently revisited in the last three years or so. Brosnan is classic 007, but he's also a bit zoot suity, and a bit Balenciaga, and slightly old school Ralph Lauren (which has been revived by the new school via legion #throwback Instagram accounts).

Could Brosnan have moonlighted as Patrick Bateman back then? Perhaps. There's the big suits, and the ties, and the perfect hair and, yes, the overcoats. Will Bond ever be this purposefully shiny ever again? Probably not. Just as Craig transformed the character over several films, so too will his successor. They'll probably leave out the offensive one liners. In fact, much of the Brosnan era will be omitted entirely. But if anything is to return, please, Barbara Broccoli, please let it be the big, brawny, beautiful overcoats.

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