How fashionable are the James Bond villains?

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How fashionable are the James Bond villains?

As soon as you hear the words fashion and James Bond in the same sentence, you might think that we’re talking about the style of 007 himself. From Sean Connery sporting his own tailor’s handiwork, to the Italian made-to-measure Brioni suits on Daniel Craig, James Bond is certainly one of the best-dressed characters on the big screen. 

Where would a well-dressed agent be without an equally as stylish villain? Some of the villains throughout the film compete well with James Bond’s fashion. Is this just for show, or does a Bond villain’s choice of attire reflect something more about the movie? Let’s take a look at the top ten Bond villains according to Screen Rant and dip into their wardrobes to find out…

10. Max Zorin — A View to A Kill 

When we think bleached hair, Christopher Walken’s rendition of Max Zorin springs to mind. Still, the look proved to be simultaneously slick and strange, and a stark contrast to Bond’s then-darker locks. 
Some of his outfits didn’t truly represent Zorin’s insanity though. Although he sports a black double-breasted dinner suit in direct contrast to Bond’s white single-breasted dinner suit in a rather obvious show of opposites, Zorin’s general style is quite subdued and, dare we say it, normal. 

Should this have rang alarm bells for the viewer? It almost seems like the man is trying just a little too hard to look unsuspicious. You could, perhaps, draw the same feeling from Zorin’s accessories during the Royal Ascot scene, where the villain has a white carnation tucked in his suit lapel. White carnations are said to represent faithfulness and innocence, which certainly cannot be attributed to a man like Zorin, who is barely loyal to his own men! 

9. Dr Kananga — Live and Let Die 

Suits are still the focus of discussion as we move on to Dr Kananga in Live and Let Die. The drug lord continues the Bond villain trend of being just as well-dressed as Bond, but with a few key notes that are just enough for the viewer to feel uneasy. 
Kananga doesn’t differ too far from Zorin in that he purposely keeps a subtly-sharp dress sense. He reserves his crazier attire choices when under the guise of “Mr Big”. Mr Big, a front for Dr Kananga, spends the movie serving the purpose of distracting Bond from Dr Kananga, despite being Dr Kananga himself. From his bright red jacket choices to his later red-shirt and white-jacket combo, everything about Mr Big is a bright, loud distraction. 

8. Franz Sanchez — Licence To Kill

In Licence To Kill, it could be argued that the villain was better-dressed than the hero! With Dalton’s Bond sporting some looser-fitting styles, Franz Sanchez also opts for the more casual tone, but with a decidedly more fitted air about him. 
He certainly mixes it up with outfit choices throughout the film, ranging from a blue suit jacket and men’s dress shirt combo, to a tan jacket and blue shirt choice. Interestingly, navy suits and grey suits are noted by some to be a good choice to send out a message of loyalty and dependability, highlighting Sanchez’s own value in those traits (and his paranoia of disloyalty in his men). It should be noted that Sanchez lacks accessories in his outfits, unless you include the rather large iguana on his shoulder in some scenes… 

7. Dr Julius No — Dr. No

Thought of as the original Bond villain, Dr No has a plain but effective ‘evil doctor’ look. The unembellished, cream-coloured Nehru suit offers little other distraction, giving the doctor a sharp, efficient look befitting the villain. The Nehru jacket was notably once worn by those who had a high social stature, which is perhaps a sad reflection on Dr No’s own backstory as being an ‘unwanted child’. He has built himself into his own semblance of high status, despite his own perceived rejections. 

By choosing to wear a neutral colour palette throughout the film, he does send some mixed messages. He’s the villain of course, but he’s wearing a colour linked to calmness and relaxation. Or, more interestingly, perhaps it echoes the idea of being in an ivory tower; that is, that Dr No’s choice of garments shows how he feels he was rejected by the world. 

Of course, we have to give him credit for his metal hands which add something different to his look. With that death-grip of his, maybe buttons were out of the question when getting dressed on a morning… 

6. Alec Trevelyan — GoldenEye

Trevelyan can be interpreted as the dark version of Bond. It can be seen as a sort of answer to the ‘what if’ wondering of the potential for Bond to go rogue. 

Why do we think this? Ultimately, it’s down to Trevelyan having a similar fashion sense as bond, with a penchant for black suits and combat fatigues. He’s meant to match Bond in every way, both in intellect and in skill, having been trained the same way as Bond. Unlike other villains, this one’s obviously armed, and he knows all the tricks Bond knows. 

Something stands out from his outfits. It’s the fact that everything is dark — his jacket, his gloves, his boots, even his shirts only vary between black and grey. Bond usually has something to contrast within his clothes (usually his choice of white shirt). His mournful colour scheme could very well be a hint towards one of the former Double-Oh agent’s goals; to avenge the death of his parents. 

5. Le Chiffre — Casino Royale 

It’s clear to see that what Le Chiffre wears is representative of his love of money.  He channels the ‘evil’ look when it comes to his ‘all black’ colour scheme, but the quality of his suit tells us something more. According to costume designer Linda Hemming, Le Chiffre’s choice of outfit is all about showing off without being noticed. He’s a man who wants to succeed without being seen, who wants his genius applauded, but not too loudly. These two desires would usually be at odds, but they make for a sleek suit of all black to hide away, but lavish velvet to show his wealth. 

4. Francisco Scaramanga — The Man With The Golden Gun

It’d be impossible for one to own a gun and not dress stylish. 
Francisco Scaramanga is weirdly fond of Bond, and more than a drop of rivalry and desire to prove himself the better killer. These things reflect in his clothes. His outfits seem determined to state ‘anything you can do, I can do better’, from his shiny choice of firearm to his slick white suit. Interestingly, Scaramanga meets his demise in China, where white can be seen as the colour of death and funerals; coincidence, or foreshadowing? 

3. Raoul Silva — Skyfall 

Granted, if anyone else wore it, Silva’s memorable printed shirt and cream jacket combo would look more than odd. Coupled with the bleached blond hair harkening back to previous Bond villain Zorin, you’d be forgiven for calling this a fashion disaster at first glance.
Therefore, it’s designed to send us all a message. Something along the lines of: I am the villain. I’m not quite stable on any level. I thought this shirt was a great choice this morning. 

Silva is another great example of a villain that’s the perfect opposite to Bond. Yes, he’s wearing a suit as Bond does, but it’s not by any means well put-together in a traditional sense. The colours contrast Bond’s usual go-to darker shades, the addition of prints is very anti-Bond, and it almost seems like Silva is mocking Bond on every level. That’s certainly the message the rogue former agent is going for, as his entire scene wearing this suit is played out as a mockery of Bond. At this stage in the film, Silva does not think Bond is his equal in any way, and he’s letting him know it. Not only does Silva feel confident that he has outsmarted Bond, he thinks he was a better agent, a smarter man, and a better shot. 

As the film draws to a close, when the two men finally fight on equal ground, we see Silva switch to darker shades and combat gear more akin to Bond’s own look, as he finally starts to admit Bond’s given him a run for his money and forced him to step out from behind his henchmen and get his hands dirty. 

2. Auric Goldfinger — Goldfinger 

Is gold something that you’re a big fan of? If so, you’re bound to love Auric’s gold-coloured everything attitude. Dressed in silk suits or woollen golfing attire, you can be sure there’s going to be a shade of gold or close-enough-to-gold brown somewhere on this villain’s garment choices. 

Color Meanings reveals that that wearing too much gold can give off a sense of ‘being miserly, unkind, lacking generosity and kindness or being over-ambitious’. Check, check, and check.  What’s the message behind all of this? Maybe nothing. The man’s called Goldfinger. He killed a woman by dipping her in gold. Sometimes, a man wears gold because a man likes gold. 

1. Ernst Stavro Blofeld — From Russia With Love, You Only Live Twice, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Diamonds Are Forever, For Your Eyes Only, Never Say Never Again, and Spectre 

The villain that keeps coming back for more, Blofeld, doesn’t prescribe to the usual ‘your suit, but better’ look many Bond villains go for. No, Blofeld is a villain who is quite happy to be utterly different from 007, from manner to fashion. 
Blofeld is memorable for donning an iconic Mao suit in a boring shade, echoing the rather listless shaded Nehru jacket worn by Dr. No before him. In fact, Blofeld’s most recent incarnation, portrayed by Christoph Waltz, would go on to sport a Nehru jacket of his own. Apparently, the new Blofeld’s simple outfit was to ensure all the spotlight for his menace were firmly on his mind, not his physical look. Here is a villain who isn’t going to beat Bond with guns or fists, so he doesn’t need to frighten or intimidate with his look. He isn’t required to engage Bond in a battle-of-the-suits, and more importantly, he doesn’t care to. 
What else can we take from the suit? There’s been many commentaries on the Bond villain’s choice of clothing, with many people quick to point out the link between Mao suits and Communism. BondSuits.com keenly points out, however, that Blofeld wears a decidedly western white cuff shirt under his Mao jacket, showing his ties to the East aren’t wholly strong.

Sources: 

https://screenrant.com/every-james-bond-villain-ranked-worst-best/
https://www.primermagazine.com/2018/learn/james-bond-clothing-brands~
https://www.bondsuits.com
https://www.hunker.com/13426248/meaning-of-white-carnation-flowers
https://www.bizjournals.com/bizjournals/how-to/growth-strategies/2014/12/why-the-color-of-your-suit-matters.html
https://www.bourncreative.com/meaning-of-the-color-beige/
https://www.color-meanings.com/color-symbolism-in-chinese-culture-what-do-traditional-chinese-colors-mean/
https://www.color-meanings.com/gold-color-meaning-the-color-gold/
https://www.christies.com/features/How-to-dress-like-James-Bond-7042-1.aspx
https://www.newstatesman.com/2015/07/no-mr-bond-i-expect-you-die-article
http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/20151007-from-red-guards-to-bond-villains-why-the-mao-suit-endures

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