Sunday, 29 July 2012

The ties that Bond us

To coincide with the launch of our necktie collection we have invited New York based writer Matt Spaiser to create a guest blog to consider the neckwear choices made during Sean Connery's tenure as 007. Matt is one of the world's foremost experts on Bond style and regularly shares his encyclopaedic knowledge of the subject on his own wildly popular blog "The Suits of James Bond".  

Sean Connery pairs a dark solid tie with his Anthony Sinclair suit

A staple of the Sean Connery Bond wardrobe is the dark solid tie. In Dr. No and From Russia With Love that tie is always a dark navy grenadine tie from Turnbull & Asser. But do not confuse that with the silk knit ties that he wears throughout Goldfinger. Whilst the grenadine might look similar in texture to the knit tie, they are completely unrelated. Most people are familiar with the knit tie, which somewhat resembles a sock. It’s a tube of knit silk with a straight hem at the bottom, though some can be found with triangular bottoms. Some have a seam in the back whilst others do not. Though most knit ties are made of silk, cotton and wool knit ties are not uncommon. It’s a casual tie, which might seem like an oxymoron these days, but Ian Fleming did like to wear other more casual items with his suits like slip-on shoes and short-sleeve shirts. The silk knit tie is was worn by the literary Bond and makes it to a few films as well.

The classic "blunt-end" knitted necktie

Moonraker is the first of Ian Fleming's novels to mention a "black knitted silk tie," and in From Russia With Love it completes the picture of Bond:

"It was a dark, clean-cut face, with a three-inch scar showing whitely down the sunburned skin of the right cheek. The eyes were wide and level under straight, rather long black brows. The hair was black, parted on the left, and carelessly brushed so that a thick black comma fell down over the right eyebrow. The longish straight nose ran down to a short upper lip below which was a wide and finely drawn but cruel mouth. The line of jaw was straight and firm. A section of dark suit, white shirt and black knitted tie completed the picture."

In The Spy Who Loved Me and The Man with the Golden Gun, Fleming elaborates on the tie calling it a "thin black knitted silk tie."

The "casual" silk knit tie combined with formal three-piece suit

And that is the tie that Sean Connery wears with a number of outfits in Goldfinger. He also wears a navy silk knit tie with the famous Prince of Wales check suit and a light brown knit tie with his tweed hacking jacket. We only see Connery wear a knit tie again in You Only Live Twice, in navy blue. George Lazenby continued with knit ties throughout On Her Majesty's Secret Service in navy and red. Later, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan all wore a knit tie once.

Though it has a passing resemblance to the knit tie, the grenadine tie has nothing in common. Grenadine silk is woven, not knit, and the tie is constructed like any normal tie: it has folds, an interlining and, of course, a triangular tip. It’s a luxurious silk, very delicate and much more formal than a knit tie. Grenadine ties are almost always appropriate when a tie is called for. Since they are typically found in solid colours they are very easy to match, but the interesting texture sets them apart from other solid ties. In black it makes an excellent funeral tie, and this is exactly what James Bond wears to the funeral at the beginning of Thunderball. Connery wears grenadine ties in all his Bond films except Goldfinger, in black, dark and light navy blues, brown and grey.

The Grenadine (garza grossa)

All grenadine silk is woven in Italy. There are two different types of grenadine silk: garza grossa  and garza fina, the former being the type that James Bond wore. Turnbull & Asser still makes garza grossa grenadine ties, and their silk is heavier than the typical garza grossa grenadine. Anthony Sinclair's new grenadine ties use the same exact silk as Turnbull & Asser, but in a narrower width closer to what Connery used to wear. Some prefer garza fina grenadine and insist that it's the only real type of grenadine. It's not as delicate as garza grossa grenadine, and the weave has a much smaller repeat that resembles a honeycomb. Grenadine ties are a staple of high end shops in London, though in the States garza grossa grenadine ties are becoming more difficult to find.

Knit and grenadine ties have a place in every man's wardrobe. They complement shirts with bold stripes and sports coats with loud checks just as well as they complement solid suits and shirts. They are always easy to match and travel well. Connery's Bond shows that having knit and grenadine ties in each of navy, black and brown can easily cover all tie-wearing needs.

Anthony Sinclair Limited would like to thank Matt Spaiser for his kind contribution of a most interesting and informative guest blog. To view the Anthony Sinclair necktie collection click here

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Recreating a Masterpiece (Part 007) The Show

The journey that has followed twelve weeks of tailoring, several months of planning, fifty years of business development and two centuries of Savile Row history, draws to a close with the opening of the largest exhibition ever to have been staged by the Barbican Arts Centre in London.

The "Goldfinger Suit" at the Barbican

The response so far has been satisfying:

"Sean Connery, looking devilishly dapper in his period Anthony Sinclair suit leaning on the DB5 at the show's entrance" Daily Telegraph

"The Dr. No evening suit is the most important suit in cinematic history" GQ

"The Conduit Cut by Anthony Sinclair is the men's equivalent of a Chanel suit" Vogue 

"Designing 007: Fifty Years of Bond Style" opened yesterday and runs until 5th September 2012.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Recreating a Masterpiece (Part 006) The Make

Precis of previous blogs:

To help celebrate the Golden Anniversary of the Bond films, the Barbican in London is hosting an exhibition entitled, "Designing 007: Fifty Years of Bond Style". However, most of the clothes made for the first actor, Sean Connery, have long disappeared, and so EON, the film's producers, have approached Anthony Sinclair to request faithful reproductions of some of the pieces originally made by the company. These include the famous evening suit worn by Connery in his first appearance as James Bond in the 1962 film, "Dr. No", along with everyone's favourite - the grey Prince of Wales three-piece "Goldfinger Suit". The records of production of these suits have also vanished from Sinclair's archives, and so, with the help of the exhibition's curators, the specifications for the remakes have been put together piece by piece. The cloth has been chosen, the design determined, the measurements and dimensions established; a paper pattern has been created and the cloth has been cut. Now the skills of a highly experienced tailor are required to craft the component pieces into beautifully finished garments - just the way Sinclair would have expected them to have been made 50 years ago.

The final stages of the process begin
Savile Row and its Mayfair environs have been synonymous with style, quality and taste for over two centuries, with the bespoke tailors of the district setting the international standard for gentleman's dress throughout that time.

During the 18th century, Paris had been the dominant cultural force in Europe, with the decadently flamboyant court dress of silk stockings, delicately embroidered coats and powdered wigs influencing men's style across the Continent.

King Louis XVI succeeded to the French throne in 1774 when he was only 19 years of age. The government was deeply in debt at the time and he oversaw a period of economic decline that together with growing discontent of the country's population towards absolute monarchy were contributing factors to the French Revolution in 1789. The King and his Queen, Marie Antoinette, were removed from the Palace of Versailles and imprisoned in Paris pending their death by guillotine in 1793.

King Louis XVI in full court attire
The French Revolution marked the end of the ancien regime and the influence of Parisian courtiers on the world of male fashion. The responsibility of instructing gentlemen how to dress now fell into the hands of another royal confidant, the English dandy, George Bryan Brummell, commonly known as "Beau" Brummell.

Brummell was an iconic figure in Regency England. An arbiter of men's style and taste, he was a close friend and sartorial advisor to the Prince Regent the future King George IV. He established the modern way of dressing, rejecting the overly ornate look popularised by the French in favour of understated, but perfectly fitted, tailored clothing.

Brightly coloured silken robes, knee breeches and stockings were replaced with dark coats and full length trousers worn over immaculate shirt linen and elaborately knotted cravats. It is claimed that he took five hours to dress and often had a coterie of admirers present to witness the marvel. To complete his pristine appearance he would demand that his boots be polished with Champagne. 

"Beau" Brummell - the original dandy

In the late 18th century an Austrian tailor, Jonathan Meyer, established a tailoring business at 36 Conduit Street. By 1800, Meyer was making clothes for both Brummell and the Prince Regent. It is believed that around this time Meyer and Brummell collaborated to produce what was to become the contemporary trouser - a garment that Beau Brummell subsequently introduced to London society and something that has remained standard gentleman's attire ever since.

In the 1830s the Meyer family joined forces with Edinburgh tailor John Mortimer to establish a new company Meyer & Mortimer. The company was bombed out of it's Conduit Street premises during the Second World War and relocated to nearby Sackville Street to share headquarters with another tailoring firm, Jones, Chalk & Dawson. The practice of sharing premises is common amongst West End tailors, and that custom continues today as indeed the Anthony Sinclair business currently resides with these two historic firms at no.6, Sackville Street.

In the years after the Second World War, bespoke tailoring businesses began to return to Conduit Street, and by the 1950's Cyril Castle and Anthony Sinclair were in residence. Following the prolonged Post War period of rationing and austerity, demand for tailored suits had begun to increase, and in turn there was a need for skilled hands to produce the work. They arrived in good number from a former British colony, Cyprus - a small island country renowned for the tailoring skills of its inhabitants.

At the beginning of the Second World War there were around 8,000 Cypriots in London. Immigration began to increase as a result of inter-communal violence on the island during the National Organisation of Cypriot Fighters campaign for independence from Britain which started in 1955. Migration peaked following independence in 1960, with around 25,000 Cypriots migrating in the year that followed. Amongst them was a young tailor called Peter Meliniotis whose talent was spotted by Anthony Sinclair who immediately recruited him as a coat maker.

Peter Meliniotis at his "board"

Peter worked for Sinclair both during, and subsequent to, the Bond years, going on to make work cut by Richard Paine when he took over the business from his former master in 1986. He continues to produce a limited number of superlative garments for the company today, and was naturally the only craftsman considered when the time came to reconstruct the classic pieces that had originally been made for Sean Connery during those early days.

Experience and expertise are the defining characteristics of a skilled artisan, and Peter has an abundance of both. He is one of a significant number of tailors who have arrived in London from other parts of the world eager to employ and develop their talents alongside fellow craftsman who have spent a lifetime honing their skills.

The historic tailoring houses of Mayfair are supported by coat, vest and trouser makers representing a host of nationalities, from Greek Cypriots, Italians and East Europeans to Chinese, Indian and African citizens, each benefitting from the knowledge that has been handed down from one generation to the next throughout the extraordinary 200 year history of the home of British tailoring - from Brummell to Bond and beyond.