James Bond, once the epitome of the suave, sophisticated Englishman will be decked out in foreign gear when the latest 007 film opens next month.
Played for the first time by an Irishman - Pierce Brosnan - he will be wearing a Brioni designer suit (Italian), checking his assignations on an Omega watch (Swiss), and drinking Smirnoff vodka made by the old enemy. Previous Bonds - Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore and Timothy Dalton, pictured top from left to right - were resolutely British.
But all is not lost. For in those big-screen, wide-angle shots of Bond in his car, you will notice that his Church's shoes remain defiantly British.
However, don't get swept away with patriotic excitement. Those British soles will be pressing down upon the German pedals of a BMW. Gone is the vintage Aston Martin from which Sean Connery once ejected unwelcome guests skywards.
Even the office of M, the head of the secret service, has undergone technical and sociological changes. M is played for the first time by a woman - Judi Dench. And all Miss Dench's computer equipment is made by IBM (American).
The films that once showed the world that Britain excelled in everything from Savile Row suits to sexy sports cars are no longer a showcase for British products. Sean Connery's suits were by Anthony Sinclair, his accessories from Morlands of Burlington Arcade.
The new Bond film, Goldeneye, has, like its predecessors, made a good amount of pre- release money by licensing rights to private firms to show off their products and because of their association with 007 give the message that they are inherently stylish, successful and powerful. It is just that the producers no longer see those qualities as British.
"We commissioned the Italian designer, Brioni, to make Pierce's suit as a trendier version of Savile Row," said Gordon Arnell, director of marketing for the British production company Eon which is in charge of the new film. "Bond is known for high style, after all."
Inside the special effects studio at Pinewood during the making of the film, the real-life Q, the special effects technician Nick Finlayson, said: "We did try to use British. But there are so many difficulties in getting the supplies on time." In the case of the Bondmobile, confirmed Mr Arnell, "we talked to a lot of British manufacturers but they didn't have the right car at the right time."
In the matter of clothes too, the British have been outstripped by the Italians. Colin Woodhead, who is co-writing a book on Bond's style over the years, said yesterday: "It wasn't really the intention not to use British clothes. The suits are tailored in Italy to be as British as possible. What you have to understand about a $55m movie is that wardrobe, particularly today, is so crucial that if anything goes wrong on a shoot the company would have to re-supply in a couple of days. The top British tailors - those that survive - are too busy and too small. Brioni can and does manufacture 250 hand-tailored items a day."
There is some good news for Britain, though. The Russian spy Xenia, played by the 30-year-old Dutch actress Famke Janssen, will star as a human nutcracker, crushing her enemies between her thighs. But beneath those killer thighs are shoes from Jimmy Choo, who supplies the Princess of Wales. And when Xenia ventures out of doors, her hats will be by British designer Phillip Somerville.
The biggest and most far- reaching news for Britain, though, is that the makeshift studio where Goldeneye was shot - a former Rolls-Royce aircraft assembly plant in Leavesden, Hertfordshire, is likely to become a new permanent British studio.
Though Rolls-Royce had wanted to turn it into a golf course and business park, Hertfordshire County Council is considering plans by a new company, Third Millennium Studios Ltd, to make the site a film studio as large as Pinewood, with what would be one of the biggest "backlots" - the areas for shooting external scenes - in the world.
Third Millennium Studios, backed by a Malaysian syndicate, would employ all British personnel and, as well as shooting films, would offer studio tours for the public, showing props from Bond and other British films.
A final decision on the plan is expected in the next few weeks.
How the modern secret service agent keeps up appearances
The new James Bond movie 'Goldeneye' opens next month, exposing British charm but foreign designers. Nice movie shame about the product placement.
SUIT: Brioni, Italian
Image: classic, rich and serious
SHIRT & TIE: Sulka, British/American/
French pounds 160
Image: serious, rich and classic
WATCH: Omega, Swiss pounds 20,000
FASHION ACCESSORY: Female, very expensive tastes
Image: up-market bimbo,
good at karate
CAR: Aston Martin, pounds 40,000
Image: Rich and time to wait for
SHOES: Church's, British pounds 120
Image: classicReuse content