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Modern English Tailoring

Filtering by Tag: tinker tailor soldier spy style


David Reeves

I am eagerly awaiting the British  film "Tinker tailor soldier spy" being released here in New York. Based on the classic novel of the same name, the international thriller is set during the Cold War years of the 1970s. George Smiley (Gary Oldman), a disgraced British spy, is rehired in secret by his government - which fears that the British Secret Intelligence Service, a.k.a. MI-6 or the "Circus", has been compromised by a double agent working for the Soviets.


Control, the Circus Chief, assigns the code names "Tinker", "Tailor", "Soldier", "Poorman" and "Beggarman" to various senior intelligence officers under suspicion of being the Soviet mole, with the intention that should an agent called Prideaux uncover information about the identity of the mole he can relay it back using an easy-to-recall code the mole is unaware of. The names are derived from the English children's rhyme "Tinker Tailor". In the book and film, "Sailor" is not used as it sounds too much like "Tailor". So there aren't in fact any "tailors" in this film but there are some interesting clothes for sure.

Before we go on about the film though its also worth mentioning in addition to the novel this film has some big shoes to fill in regards to the excellent T.V series adaptation from 1974 starring Sir Alec Guiness. If you have the opportunity you should watch this as well but beware its very complicated and makes Inception seem like Police Academy 4.

Jacqueline Durran costume designer for the film deduced that the British Spies would have probably shopped on Jermyn Street, the Burlington Arcade and Savile Row. The clothes in this film are very, very English conservative and rarely indicate the period in which they are set, theres no big flares or wide lapels except in moderation on some of the younger characters. Her thinking was that the characters had bought their suits 10 years ago in a classic style so they were immune to the disco era look. What we see is a rather austere look with very little glamour and this fits the subject rather well. These spies are not about James Bond glamour its about constant paranoia and deception with no means to achieve a final victory. Even so though this austere look can be very stylish because its so genuinely "Anti Fashion".

Speaking of anti fashion and suits that last 10 years I just got the 16oz heavy weight Lesser book this Morning. I got it from a Russian contact, Code name: Fabric Czar.

Tinker tailor soldier spy is released stateside December 9th.