When Sean Connery resigned his 007 status with the British secret service after Diamonds Are Forever in 1971, the franchise was at a cross roads. The money-making machine was too lucrative to stop, but who could possibly replace Connery? In stepped English actor Roger Moore who would carry the role from 1973 to 1985. This stint remains the longest-serving James Bond actor and is a tribute to Moore’s ability to not only fill the big shoes Connery left behind, but also add his own style to the bespoke spy.
In retrospect, Moore was a perfect choice for the times. During his reign, the Cold War was very much a central theme of Bond movies, but not as hot as it had been in the 1960’s. With intrinsic humor, notable one-liners and an ever-increasing arsenal of Q’s deadly gadgets, Moore made Bond adapt to the culture of the 1970’s and early 1980’s. Clothes were daring, technology was bulky but fun and nothing, not even Russian despots, were taken too seriously.
Moore would handle the pressure of carrying the Bond legacy with his British charm, handsome features and ability to get down and dirty when necessary. He appeared in seven Bond films: Live and Let Die (1973), The Man with the Golden Gun (1974), The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), Moonraker (1979), For Your Eyes Only (1981), Octopussy (1983) and A View to a Kill (1985). Moore was the right choice to take Bond through the swinging 70’s and into the pop 80’s.
While Moore could always pull off Bond’s requite black tie attire, he allowed 007 to loosen up a bit with wide-lapelled menswear that defined 70’s style. From safari leisure jackets and grey and red-checked sport coats to yellow space suits and stacked heel brown shows, Moore made Bond a secret agent who probably spent as much time reading Esquire as he did dossiers on world threats.
Yet, even while Moore gave Bond a license to thrill with his adoption of trendy menswear, he could still maintain the Bond code of dapperness. Moore’s staple throughout his tenure in the secret MI6 program was the blue blazer, a versatile metal-buttoned piece that was elegant, traditional and spot-on whether in navy or air force blue. Moore’s single and double-breasted blazers featured wide-lapels, padded but narrow shoulders and a leaner cut through the chest. In The Spy Who Loved Me, Moore presents a Mediterranean dandy when he couples his blazer with off-white trousers, blue and white striped shirt with “Lapidus” tab cuffs from Frank Foster and a blue shantung sill tie.
Bold, dashing and affable, Moore’s 007 was a style icon that would influence costume designers for years to come. Heed how he pulls off Bogner sportswear and Pierre Cardin 30/7 ski goggles in snowy mountain settings, sports a Gucci suitcase when traveling in Hong Kong and his reaction when receiving a ticker-tape message to report to headquarters on his Seiko 0674 LC watch. Seiko’s would be a Moore favorite and his 7020 Quartz Chronograph sets the time and tone for A View to a Kill.
While some Bond diehards found Moore a bit too quirky and kitschy, one must remember the era. A stoic Daniel Craig or tailored Connery would not have fit the culture or style of Bond in the 70’s and 80’s. This was a time for style experimentation and it is to Moore’s credit that he did it with such panache. When looking back, who better than Roger Moore to bridge Bond from the mod 1960’s to the brave, albeit humorous, world of the late 20th century?