Fashion: Movers and shakers in the Bond market

When `Tomorrow Never Dies' opens next week 007 won't be the only one in for the kill. Designing clothes for the world's most stylish secret agent - and his enemies - can be a licence to sell, says Francesca Fearon.

You think you're watching action heroes, but you're really window shopping.

That's the conclusion that the likes of Armani and Cerruti and Hugo Boss have reached, and you know they can't be wrong. Armani has worked on more than 90 films, including Batman and The Bodyguard; Cerruti has notched up a similar number. Italian label Ermenegildo Zegna's latest credits are The Devil's Advocate, and Kenneth Branagh in The Gingerbread Man.

Ever since the first moving pictures were shown, films have proved to be the perfect forum for showing off fashion. With audiences held captive for two hours while the camera magnifies every designer detail on to a huge screen, it is surely the most profitable form of free advertising there is. The designers provide the clothes free, of course - and, of course, it's dead important that the folk see the label.

It was no accident that Armani launched his menswear collection in the US on the back of the success of American Gigolo. The timing was certainly right.

"In the Eighties men started to focus more on fitness and the right dose of vanity," says Giorgio Armani. "They tended to be more flexible in the way of clothing ,and became less conservative and traditionalist."

Rocky IV propelled Hugo Boss into the US market. But now it's that James Bond moment again: Tomorrow Never Dies premieres next week. Enter the Italian bespoke tailor Brioni, with a licence to dress.

Bond has had a tricky sartorial history, and that's down to the different actors who have played the role over the years. The truth about Bond and clothes is the same as the truth about Bond himself. Sean Connery was the only one who was really the business. Roger Moore is remembered for his Seventies slacks, and Timothy Dalton for his complete lack of dress sense; Sean Connery's timeless Sixties tailoring is the look best liked on Bond.

"It was simple, classic and partly period," explains the costume designer, Lindy Hemmings.

That is just the image she was seeking for Pierce Brosnan, the first Bond since Connery to look and feel right: the first one really worth dressing (or undressing). "I wanted a look that Bond would have chosen for himself - slightly Savile Row - but would not make him stand out in a crowd," she says. So Hemmings chose Brioni to kit out Bond, because the tailors of Savile Row did not have the capacity to produce within two weeks the 17 suits required, complete with special inside pockets in which 007 could stash his Walther PPK.

Rather than impose a current season's look on her characters, which she believes would have dated the film, Hemmings has used clothes to define each personality. In Tomorrow Never Dies, Bond is classical; Jonathan Pryce as the villain, Carver, is modern and minimalist, wearing clothes adapted from Kenzo; and the henchman, Stamper, played by Gotz Otto, wears Ozwald Boateng, which, says Hemmings, is "the reflection of a young, modern hard man."

At Christie's, South Kensington, you can buy suits straight off the screen if you've a few tens of thousands to spare. The navy suit Harrison Ford wears in Airforce One is one he bought off the rail from Cerruti and thought would fit the part. Cerruti then ran up 36 copies, to be worn by Ford and his stunt doubles in the film. Very few of them survived the rigours of filming, but one that did is being sold for between pounds 1,800 and pounds 2200, complete with two bullet holes and imitation blood.

Alongside the Cerruti at Christie's will be a dress suit, a navy three- piece and a cream linen suit designed specially for Sean Connery in Diamonds are Forever, both estimated to sell for between pounds 4,500 and pounds 6,500, and a brown wool suit from Thunderball. The most sought-after item however, will be the black wool dinner suit with claret lapels and matching trousers, that was made for Sean Connery, again for 1971's Diamonds are Forever. The lowest bid expected for that is pounds 6,000.

So if you hanker after a suit once worn by your hero, then, at last, if you have the spare cash, this is your opportunity to realise a Hollywood dream, bullet holes and all.

`Tomorrow Never Dies' premieres in London on 9 December, and goes on general release on 12 December.

Christie's Film and Entertainment Memorabilia sale will be held on 11 December at 85 Old Brompton Road, South Kensington,London SW7, from 2pm. Call 0171-581 7611 for further details, or 0171-321 3152 for a catalogue.

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