Never sleep on the firm’s time, drink Bollinger and carry a PPK

Jan 30,2007
The Bond fashion: the power suit by Brioni and the “MI6” watch by Omega. all photos provided by the companies
When British actor Daniel Craig became the sixth incarnation of James Bond in February 2006 he was almost destroyed by a whirlwind of criticism. Fans complained that the blonde, blue-eyed 178 centimeter (5 foot10) thespian failed to qualify in any of the essential categories of Bondom namely, he was not tall, dark or elegantly handsome.
In Korea there was also some gossip about the new bad guy playing the world-famous James Bond, but the local heat was nothing compared to the brouhaha surrounding the 2002 Bond film, “Die Another Day.” Action, cool cars and plots aside, Koreans simply couldn’t stand the Pierce Brosnan version of James Bond denouncing North Korea.

Now that North Korea is no longer a 007 plot point Koreans were happy to forgive the producers and rushed to 343 theaters nationwide when “Casino Royale,” Mr. Craig’s Bond-debut, was released on Dec. 20. Most gave the film a positive review. The blond agent had a well-chiseled body, he romanced two extremely gorgeous ladies and seemed to have successfully updated the British agent for the year 2007. Mr. Craig brought back a feeling of class and charm to the character that seemed closer to the original created by author Ian Fleming.
When “Die Another Day” came out, the North Korean scenes guaranteed the controversial film would be a bust when it came to merchandising. By contrast, “Casino Royale” seems to be provoking a shopping spree. While few people will be flying 007-style to France for a weekend of gambling at the casino in Deauville, some will be hunting down the many luxury products that appear in almost every scene ― especially now that Korea’s nouveau riche class seem more prepared to splurge on imported gadgets. It may be that the new Bond, the new Bond girls and the new “it” products fit perfectly with the image of Korea as a country that’s moving forward, embracing new products on a daily basis. Whatever the reason, brand managers handling luxury products ― from watches to champagne to fashion ― can’t get enough of Daniel Craig.
When asked about the immediate effect of the film, an elated Omega Korean spokesperson said, “The Omega Seamaster Professional 300M, the 007 Limited Edition, was completely sold out even before the movie opened in Korea,” she said, adding that Omega sales have gradually increased over the years and films like “Casino Royale” help to maintain the rising trend.
Champagne sales have experienced some changes as well. Older gentlemen who learned from earlier James Bonds that they should drink Dom Perignon have helped keep that marque as the premium champagne for years. But now, after Craig quaffed Bollinger in “Casino Royale,” young Koreans have begun to name-drop “Bolly” instead. Kyle Lee, who owns Seoul’s trendy champagne bar Naos Nova in central Seoul has seen this phenomenon firsthand. “By mentioning the James Bond film, it becomes easy for clients to understand a champagne they may have never heard of before,” said Mr. Lee, who recommends the 1997 La Grand Annee Bollinger for those who want to feel like a cool secret agent ready for a weekend of poker.
In his lifestyle column in “Hankyung Business Weekly,” Benny Hwang asks male readers to work out in the gym and romance ladies James Bond-style ― he especially suggests making a strong vodka martini for one’s date on Valentine’s Day and naming it after her.

The latest Bond car is a Jaguar, either the Jaguar XJ, shown here, or the S-type.

As for cars, Bond is inextricably linked with Aston Martin. The V12 Vanguard model used in “Casino Royale” has an undisclosed price tag and is a true dream car. Reasonably wealthy Bond lovers also have several cool German cars to choose from. No one doubts James Bond’s choices contributed to making BMWs roll bumper to bumper along the streets of Seoul. Now it’s Jaguar’s turn. If Bond’s Jaguar XKR barely got noticed in “Die Another Day,” with “Casino Royale” it’s a different story. According to the spokesperson at Jaguar Korea, since the film’s December release Jaguar dealers have experienced an unexpected rush of inquiries on “that 007 car,” especially the Jaguar XJ and S-Type.
When the new Bond girl, Vesper Lynd, played by Eva Green, was assigned to make Mr. Craig’s rough-edged Bond “fit right into the class of billionaire gamblers,” she headed to Rome for a meeting with the official James Bond tailor, Brioni. As a result the classic Roman sartorial look ― complete with bow tie, a pair of classic brogues and a Borsalino hat ― is back in fashion. Brioni has dressed the legendary actors Clark Gable, Gary Cooper and Henry Fonda since it was established in 1950. In Korea, Brioni was launched in 2001 inside the Galleria department store in Apgujeong-dong. Korean gentlemen first associated Brioni with the fifth Bond, Pierce Brosnan, who, in “Golden Eye” (1995), represented the quintessentially elegant British style. A spokesperson at Brioni Korea says Brioni has steadily increased its sales over the years and that prompted them to open a women’s Brioni store in 2004.

The Omega Seamaster Professional Diver watch is standard issue for the British Secret Intelligence Service ― better known as “MI6” ― and has become a classic for 007.

When Brioni Korea announced that Brioni had recreated 100 limited edition tuxedos like the one that Daniel Craig wore in “Casino Royale,” the Seoul office fielded hundreds of phone calls from clients seeking to purchase the tuxedo, including its special hidden compartments to store guns and ammunition. Unfortunately the suit, which cost about 8 million won (about $8,000), was sold out shortly after the film’s release in the U.S. So, for now, it is not possible for Korean men to become James Bond.

By Ines cho Staff Writer [inescho@joongang.co.kr]

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