James Bond is probably the suavest ever living thing, which makes it surprising that Ian Fleming, 007’s creator, chose the name because “James Bond was the dullest name I ever heard.”
Perhaps, but we mortals aren’t overly similar to Mr. Bond. Hollywood soon abandoned Fleming’s conception of Bond as a relatively ordinary man in an extraordinary world. Instead of eating lunch, for example, James wrestles steel-toothed mutants atop cable cars. And he wins.
That said, we do have mutual interests. One of those interests - notwithstanding the lock-picking, stun-gassing, exploding key-rings and saw-blading, bullet-stopping, laser-beaming watches - is fashion. And more than any other fashion accessory, it is arguably Bond’s sunglasses that offer us the most tantalising prospect of being like Bond.
The question is, though: which Bond?
Putting this to a poll settles the greatest debate of the modern age. It also allows us to profile one of the most defining fashion icons of all time, enjoy some amazing sunglasses and remind ourselves that Bond is, kind of, just like us.
So, will you help us? (Warning: spoilers alert.)
Ian Fleming reportedly doubted Sean Connery’s sexual charisma - a skepticism rendered laughable a minute into Connery’s Dr. No (1962) debut. “Bond,” he croons in a dripping baritone, the envy of the casino floor. “James Bond.”
Never mind that he wore a toupee in every performance: Scot Connery’s potent concoction of seduction, humour and ruthlessness has, to most fans’ minds, cemented his status as the James Bond.
Whether copulating with audacity (by granting Volpe’s request for some clothes to protect her modesty with a pair of slippers, for instance), poking fun at mortal peril (“I think he got the point”), dispatching enemies with icy cool (“That’s a Smith and Wesson, and you’ve had your six”) or exhibiting some of Q’s most timeless gadgets (a seagull snorkel; a jetpack; that iconic Aston Martin DB5; and a machine-gunning, flamethrowering, mine-dropping, rocket-firing, heat-seeking-missile-launching autogryo nicknamed Little Nellie), Connery’s Bond was ludicrously desirable.
The only time Connery looks remotely bothered, in fact, is with Goldfinger’s flaming laser beam edging towards his crotch. Until, that is, he manoeuvres his way out of the pickle.
So which shades befit such a character? The answer is unclear. Having declined sunglasses in the scorching Jamaican sunshine of Dr. No, Connery’s models in From Russia With Love (1963) and Thunderball (1965) remain unidentified. The best guess, fittingly, is the timeless Ray Ban Wayfarers.
Following Connery would have been difficult for anybody, let alone an Aussie model with no prior acting experience. Given too that Lazenby played Bond only once, in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969), can he really be considered the best?
Maybe. Firstly, Lazenby was more physical than Connery; he actually knocked down a professional wrestler moonlighting as a stuntman during auditioning. More importantly, many aficionados consider On Her Majesty’s Secret Service a Bond classic, courtesy of a fantastic soundtrack, Lazenby’s believable Bond, Diana Rigg’s unusually strong female character, its excellent skiing sequences and its jarring ending.
Lazenby’s biggest shortcoming was his lack of eyewear. He has left it to us to assign him a pair. Accordingly, given he declined to continue as Bond, opting instead for a humble hippie lifestyle, we think he’d identify with William Morris’ desire to bring designer eyewear to all audiences.
Roger Moore, he of the frivolous cocked eyebrow, was the playful uncle of the Bond actors. Aged 57 in his Bond swan-song, A View To A Kill (1985), he even suffered from hoplophobia - an irrational fear of weapons!
Not that Moore, Bond’s longest servant, was short on epic moments. <a "href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w4NTbnu7u5g" target="_blank">Posing as a statue to shoot Scaramanga in The Man With The Golden Gun (1974), skiing off the edge of a cliff in The Spy Who Loved Me(1977) - with the help of Rick Sylvester, his stunt double - and surviving the centrifugal simulator in Moonraker (1979) spring to mind.
But Moore was best when gadgeting, quipping and depicting global espionage a spiffing jaunt. Driving a submersible Lotus, facing Jaw’s metal teeth and the like never dampened his humour. Confronted with an ultimatum involving a Fabergé egg for his life in Octopussy (1983), he remains practical: “Well I heard the price of eggs was going up, but isn’t that a little high?” And when MI6 demands to know why he is entangled with a female at the end of The Spy Who Loved Me, Moore’s reply is iconic. “Keeping the British end up, sir.”
Again, though, Moore wasn’t one for sunglasses - a major riposte to those who exalt him as the best Bond. Personally, we think one British institution naturally deserves another - that Moore would have been an Oliver Goldsmith fan.
Too boring, or underrated? Certainly many critics believe the latter, but Dalton’s classically trained, emotionally complex, literarily loyal depiction of Bond never won the masses. The Welshman’s mass appeal has been further hampered by poor marketing and an aids epidemic that rendered excessive promiscuity in his films distasteful.
Dalton did, however, perform most stunts himself, and boasts disproportionate critical acclaim for his two roles. His “farewell to arms” MI6 desertion kickstarts the unique License To Kill(1989), which culminates in his gritty disposal of nemesis Sanchez; and The Living Daylights (1987) has been praised for progressive plot features such as its sole Bond girl.
But Dalton, too, never wore sunglasses, playing Bond before the product-placement boom. We can only assume, given his desire to stick to Fleming’s original intentions, that he would have appreciated Gucci’s historical pedigree.
Irishman Brosnan brought Bond into the 21st century. Like a university fresher balancing personalities old and new, his transitionary Bond recalls Moore’s levity and foreshadows Craig’s depth.
Accordingly, his films range from the divine to the dreadful. As iconic as Goldeneye (1995) has become for its tank chase and Nintendo game, and as memorable as Brosnan’s tumultuous relationship with Elektra is in The World is Not Enough (1999), Die Another Day (2002), although commercially successful, has been widely lampooned thanks to its implausibility (an invisible car, Bond surfing a tsunami) and Madonna cameo.
Brosnan was on the money, though, with his sunglasses - in particular his Calvin Klein 2007s and x-ray shades in The World is Not Enough, and his Persol 2672-Ss in Die Another Day. Nice taste, Pierce.
When Craig emerged, torso rippling, from the Bahaman ocean in Casino Royale (2006), James Bond was thrust back into the contemporary consciousness. And, by the end of the film, critics of blonde Craig’s selection had been largely silenced. Not only was Bond now harder, more volatile and more multi-dimensional, but the way Craig’s skimpy entrance echoed Ursula Andress’ in the first Bond film, Dr. No (1962), symbolised a marked social evolution from Bond’s prejudicial roots.
Although Craig’s Bond isn’t humourless - “Now the whole world’s gonna know you died scratching my balls,” he chuckles whilst having his testicles flagellated in Casino Royale - he is markedly more gritty. Alongside the usual rooftop chases and record-braking barrel rolls, Bond is found tenderly sucking the blood from Vesper’s hands, in Casino Royale, and mourning the death of Judi Dench, M, in Skyfall (2012).
After sporting a pair of Persol 2244s in Casino Royale, then, what better eyewear for Craig’s Bond than modern-man supremo Tom Ford’s FT108s, in Quantum of Solace (2008), and Marko FT0144s, in Skyfall? How will he top those in the upcoming Spectre(2015)?
Bond's new choice of shades for Spectre, the Tom Ford Snowdon is a unisex sunglass and promises to be a massive hit!