The Style Of <i>No Time To Die</i>

The Style Of No Time To Die

Costume designer Suttirat Anne Larlarb talks the “grounded cool” of Bond 25

Emmy award-winning costume designer Suttirat Anne Larlarb has a career which spans London and Broadway theatre, opera, blockbuster movies and the 2012 summer Olympics. In 2021, Suttirat was responsible for No Time To Die and Daniel Craig’s look in his last outing as James Bond as well as creating the wardrobes for villain Safin (Rami Malek) and the film’s three female protagonists: Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux); Paloma (Ana de Armas); and Nomi (Lashana Lynch). 

In our exclusive interview, Suttirat reveals why No Time To Die demanded a different look for 007…

The Preparation

“I had already watched all the James Bond films before I was approached about being the costume designer just because I was a fan. I was introduced to them by my mom who loved them. Skip forward to when I became the designer, I rewatched them again. I wanted to create a mental database of what the big themes were in terms of design for certain kinds of characters: the villain, the love interest, the worker bees in the lair of the villain. I also wanted to break things down in terms of environments. Over the years James Bond has been in the desert, mountains, underwater, jungle, every continent. If you’re watching it intently, a little bit gets imprinted in your design DNA.”

The Approach

“Director Cary (Joji Fukunaga) came up with the phrase ‘grounded cool’. I think there’s cool that’s cool for cool sake. I think there’s grounded, which can be very documentarian, no pizazz. And then ‘grounded cool’ is somewhere between them. It’s about being driven by character behaviour. You have this responsibility on a Bond film to answer the challenge of the previous movie visually and lay down the gauntlet for the next one. It has to be cool. But, because of the conversations I had been having with both our director and Daniel Craig himself about where our James Bond was in his career and his life, we knew that No Time To Die was going to be a different kind of look for Bond.”

Bond in Italy

“He starts at a point in which we’ve never seen him before. It’s very clear at the beginning of our film that he’s made a choice to reject his old life. So, in order to do that, there were some rules that I felt were really necessary to have that relaxation visually. He’s in this soft jacket that’s very fluid and bears no resemblance to a suit jacket. It’s the most relaxed version of a romantic getaway travel look without being like a structured Safari suit or something that might be more expected of Bond. It just needed to telegraph romance, travel and luxury all in one outfit.”

Bond in Jamaica

“We were really stripping away everything everybody knows about Bond. He’s renounced his position at the secret service to fall in love and now he’s renounced love itself. He had to start from a shirt full of holes and swimming shorts. So the journey can be about building him back to the point where he walks back through the famous doors in London in his Tom Ford suit to go head-to-head with M.”

Bond in Cuba

“James has to put that armour back on. From the outset I was so privileged to work with Tom Ford and his team on this tuxedo. I knew what the scenes and sets were, and I also knew all the tuxedos that Daniel had worn in previous films. With the Tom Ford team, I was able to work out the silhouette, the details of the lapel and the materials. I made a binder just for the tuxedo communications that was as thick as a phonebook.”

Madeleine Swann – Léa Seydoux

“When we meet her, Madeleine has let her guard down with this man. She is travelling in Italy, wearing a beautiful red floral dress, exactly what you would imagine a fiery, passionate trip to Italy would need. We started out on fire, and then drained that life out of her a bit. When Bond and Madeleine finally see each other again, she’s partially built that shell back up, but she’s not as inaccessible as she was in her Spectre introduction because she’s been worn down. We later learn the secret. She’s now a mother and there’s a domestic aspect. So, it’s not the same uniform you put on when you’re the only person in your life.”

Safin – Rami Malek

“Doing my research, one of the pictures that popped out was this image of the genius Japanese designer Issey Miyake at his work table. He just looked like the architect of the world, and so at ease in that role. It has the appearance of a uniform, but it’s his own thing. I mentioned these things to Rami when we first met and he grabbed on to that as well. Collaborating with Rami was just wonderful for me. We had great conversations about character, probably to an annoying point for him, but it all helps me.”

Safin’s Mask

“We knew Safin needed a mask for when he goes to see the young Madeleine and wants to remain anonymous. I pulled up a lot of reference, from something as pedestrian as a ski mask to functional balaclavas and hoods because we knew the environment was cold. But I remembered having seen this image of a Japanese Noh theatrical mask. When I showed this picture to Cary, what he liked about it was at first it seemed expressionless, but it actually has quite a lot of expression depending on how you look at it. This seemed like a good metaphor for how Rami was approaching Safin.”

Paloma – Ana de Armas

“Paloma is basically earning her stripes. We had discussions about women in these positions, who have to embed themselves in the situation when they’re being called to serve. In the case of Paloma, our introduction to her is at the extravagant Spectre party that’s happening in Cuba, which is a black-tie event. So, not to be singled out, she’s basically in this spectacular dress, and does incredible feats in this wisp of a thing. Especially on a franchise like this, it’s important when you turn up the volume, you turn it up really high.”

Nomi – Lashana Lynch

“Nomi is seen wearing a tactical all-in-one, which is from a sketch of mine. We talked about her needing to blend in and not be seen, she doesn’t want to be mistaken as a guest. I’m thinking about the stunts she’s going to be engaged in, the equipment she needs, all the ways the clothes need to serve the action. So it made perfect sense for Nomi to be in something allowing her to be fast, agile and move around like a cat.”

Final Thoughts

“I never in a million years would have thought I’d get to do a Bond film. I felt so grateful and honoured. When I was doing it, I felt this huge sense of responsibility and really feared the consequences if I didn’t keep my eyes on the prize. Now that I’ve done it and it exists, and people talk about the canon of Bond films, that’s pretty exciting.”

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