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Recreating a Masterpiece (Part 004) The Measure

Posted on November 13 2015

Following the release of “You Only Live Twice” in 1967, Sean Connery insisted that he had no intention of renewing his license to kill, and was replaced by Australian actor George Lazenby for the 1969 film “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” (OHMSS).  Lazenby had done his best to get into character prior to his audition for the role of James Bond, and actually arrived at the casting wearing an Anthony Sinclair bespoke suit. Whilst this would have ensured that he looked the part for the screen test, it was as close as Sinclair’s tailoring got to the film production. The new Bond got a new tailor (Dimi Major of Fulham), the silver Aston DB5 was traded-in for an olive green DBS and to even greater surprise, the hero swapped bachelorhood for marriage.

A new look and fresh ideas were clearly considered to be important factors in trying to keep the James Bond franchise alive. You Only Live Twice had received mixed reviews, with a Variety magazine writer asking of the series, “Can it go on indefinitely?” However, the press did not react well to the changes that transpired, and although OHMSS was by no means a commercial disaster, the worldwide box office figures for this new Bond adventure were approximately half that of the previous film.

Lazenby wore a Sinclair suit for his casting – it worked.

In 1971, Sean Connery was coaxed into returning to the role of 007 for another EON production, “Diamonds Are Forever”, which also saw the return of his tailor, Anthony Sinclair. The film was a success, reversing the fortunes of the Bond franchise, but the suits produced by Sinclair were to be the last he ever made for Connery … or James Bond.

Connery’s successor, Roger Moore, was to employ the services of Cyril Castle who had produced the tailoring for Moore’s television appearances as Simon Templar in “The Saint” and Brett Sinclair in “The Persuaders”. James Bond didn’t have to travel far to visit his new tailor – Sinclair’s address was no.29 Conduit Street, and Castle’s premises were located opposite at no.42.

Roger Moore being fitted by Cyril Castle

Not only did Anthony Sinclair and Cyril Castle operate their business from the same Mayfair street, the other coincidence was that they had both, at different times, employed and trained a young apprentice tailor called Richard W Paine. Anthony retired in 1986, handing his shears down to Richard who continued to run the Sinclair business until 2005, when sudden illness forced him to cease trading. Thankfully, a recent improvement in health has allowed his return to the cutting room, offering his incomparable technical knowledge, experience and ability to the relaunched company, and there is no man alive more qualified than Richard to cut authentic reproductions of the suits worn by Connery as Bond.

Unfortunately, over forty years have elapsed since the original paper pattern was used, and given that the business has changed location four times during that period, along with several years of dormancy, it is understandable but regrettable that all records of Connery’s work, including his pattern, have been lost. Even if Sir Sean were to step back into the fitting room it wouldn’t help. Whilst the years have been kind to him, his figure is unlikely to be exactly as it was in the 1960’s. Some kind of reference material from the time was desperately needed in order to create a true representation of the famous suits.

In January 2011, the company had received a call from British television producers Channel 4 who were piloting a new series that involved guests bringing interesting collectibles onto the show to be valued and then auctioned. A gentleman had brought an old suit along, and the producers needed to estimate its value. The label inside the in-breast pocket of the jacket showed that the garment was one of five “repeat” orders that had been made by Anthony Sinclair in 1966 for none other than Sean Connery Esq.

The label inside the in-breast pocket proved the provenance of the suit

The person who was planning to take part in the show had found the suit in the back of his mother’s wardrobe. His father had worked at Pinewood Studios in the 1960’s and happened to be a similar size to Sean Connery. He’d been involved in the production of You Only Live Twice and was in need of a new suit, so when filming was complete he managed to persuade the wardrobe department to sell him one of the multiple number of identical grey herringbone suits that had been prepared for 007 (the budget for this film, the 5th in the series, had grown and the practice of making several copies of each costume had begun – in the event that one or more could possibly be destroyed by special effects or action scenes).

Bond artefacts do appear at auction from time to time, but items of Sean Connery’s wardrobe from his tenure as 007 are extremely rare – and expensive. The costume was limited in the early films, and Connery was fond of Sinclair’s tailoring, reportedly keeping hold of many of the suits for his personal use. When EON Productions contacted the company in late 2011 to request reworks of the original suits, it was hoped that the grey herringbone number would still be available, or that perhaps the owner would be kind enough to loan the piece in order to allow measurements to be taken from it. Unfortunately, the company was too late to act and the suit had been sold.

Connery puts his grey herringbone suit to the test in You Only Live Twice

Fearing that the precious item may now be many thousands of miles away it was a great relief to discover that it had been bought by a young man who worked in the City of London, in fact his office is located minutes away from the Barbican – the venue for the upcoming exhibition.

The necessary introductions were made and the new owner kindly offered to loan his prized possession to the company. It would now be possible to take direct measurements from the original outfit and “reverse-engineer” a pattern that could be used as the basis for the re-creations.

On Saturday 19th May 2012, the suit came home to its makers, and there to greet it was the man charged with the job of drafting the replacement pattern, Mr. Richard W Paine. The company now had everything required to begin the process of cutting and making the suits in time for the exhibition.

Richard W Paine examines the original article


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