When Ian Fleming wrote the sixth in his James Bond series of novels in 1958, little did he know that within four years a cinematic franchise would arise, and would continue to run for over half a century.
Mr. Bond is a suave Eton-educated character with a taste for the finer things in life, so it’s only natural that Turnbull & Asser were the clothiers of choice.
In many respects, Connery’s acting career began with his role as James Bond. Born in Edinburgh in 1930, he came late to acting. Leaving school early, he enlisted in the Royal Navy when he was just sixteen, where he remained for three years. Upon returning to Edinburgh, he took up numerous jobs, including bricklaying and lifeguarding, whilst spending his free time bodybuilding. In 1950, he was placed third in the Mr. Universe competition, which kick-started his modelling and acting career. With credits in over 60 films, the winner of the 1988 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, and a knighthood, Connery is a testament to hard work, belief, and a touch of style.
Michael Fish with Sean Connery.
He was first introduced to Turnbull & Asser by Terrence Young, the Director of Dr. No and a regular patron of the brand. The brief? To create a simple yet masculine wardrobe to suit Connery’s body. “The Bond look was quite bold,” says Paul Cuss, who cut Connery’s shirts, “Up until then, collars had been quite shallow, but for Bond we made them much higher with a medium spread. I think the first order was for seventy-two shirts made from Sea Island cotton. For every scene, we made six identical shirts for Sean Connery.” The esteemed designer and shirt-maker, Michael Fish, was the first to fit Mr. Bond’s shirts. Choosing a simplistic styling, and using only white and pale-blue Sea Island poplin, the most notable touch of ostentation comes with the two-button turned back cuff, which Young recommended, having admired David Niven’s own Turnbull & Asser shirts.
Sean Connery and Eunice Gayson in Dr No.
And so began a relationship that would last Connery’s tenure as 007, spanning all 7 films over a 20 year period. But Turnbull & Asser’s involvement didn’t stop there, and they have continued to produce garments for almost every Bond film since. But the man who started it all was Sir. Sean Connery. Indeed, it is widely believed that after Fleming’s initial reservations about a ‘working-class Scotsman’, playing the role of Bond, he was subsequently so impressed with Connery’s performance that in his further novels he created a Scottish family history for Bond, and embellished his taste for luxury goods, purely to celebrate Connery.
For most, Connery will always be the true 007, and we should all gallantly raise a Martini in his name. Happy birthday, Mr. Bond.
Hugh Francis Anderson is a freelance writer specialising in luxury lifestyle, adventure travel and motoring.
Visit his website, hughfrancisanderson.com, for more information.