Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy: Savile Row Inspired Style

Set in 1973 London, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy tells the tale of one Mi6 agent’s search for a Russian spy hiding amidst a handful of British operatives.  As a character driven film, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, pulls much of it’s dark and ominous tone from the actors themselves.  Therefore, costume designer Jacqueline Durran had to thoughtfully construct the wardrobes to effectively convey the severity of the situation that the agent’s found themselves in.
Durran clearly drew inspiration from Savile Row, located just a few blocks from the Piccadilly Circus where much of the film takes place.  With centuries of tailoring tradition to draw upon, the costumes were built around the basic framework of a three piece suit in a slim silhouette.  This look helped the characters appear serious and smart; looking clean and crisp even while performing devious deeds.  On top of this straightforward blueprint, Durran used patterns, colors, and details to distinguish and dignify each specific character, adding complexity and mystique.  The older, more experienced operatives wore ties in basic, deeper hues, expressing seniority and due respect.  Meanwhile, younger agents appeared in bold patterned shirts and ties, and more bombastic suits with wide, peak lapels.
Breaking from this pattern was the character Ricki Tarr, arguably the most intriguing character in the mix. Tarr appears as the young, intelligent, rebel so he is, fittingly, never seen in a suit; serving as a distinct foil to his counterparts. Instead, Tarr shaped the character in pieces such as a Barracuta G-9 Jacket, and Converse Jack Purcells.  Dad jeans and longer hair rounded out Tarr’s ‘casual man of mystery’ style.
Over all it is the details that encapsulate and solidify the brooding feel of the film. Be it the knee-length trenches that capture a hazy London afternoon, leather gloves that convey an impending crime, or the bottle of scotch a character carries en route to a clandestine meeting Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy exemplifies the old adage: it is the finishing touches that truly make the man.
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3 comments
  1. Reblogged this on As a movie viewer… and commented:
    Chanced upon this gem while searching for a picture of Ricki Tarr to put into my review. The film struck me with how intensely atmospheric it was, but I’d never thought to look at it this way… by analysing the wardrobe of its characters and how it reflects on their roles and personalities in the film.

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