The masculine cusp


The masculine cusp

The cultural reworking of machismo has changed the image of the contemporary man. Once it was about facial and chest hair, broad muscles and a Marlboro man like masculinity—tough, stoic, brooding. Today it is about fluorescent jackets, fitted floral pants, red brogues and crying in public. It is also about impeccably worked out pectorals and a shaven chest. Masculinity may not be in a crisis, but its appearance as accepted, if not dictated, by the heterosexual female gaze is certainly in a blur.

In these times, Daniel Craig as James Bond stands enigmatically on the cusp of what masculinity meant in times gone by and what it means today. He is a brooder alright, sharp and steely, and incredibly sexy too. Over his stunningly toned abs, the black tuxedo looks like a sex toy for his female fans. But when he is navel-gazing or bare bodied, as in the song Writing’s On The Wall in his latest outing Spectre, Craig is the contemporary man, chest clean-shaven.

James Bond has changed, but ever so slightly. Thank you, Sam Mendes. When it is about heterosexuality, I am no fan of a gender-fluid approach in male dressing. Nor of excessive male grooming to the point where market manipulated vanity begins overwriting naturally scripted gender differences. Craig, when clothed, is the strongest visual argument to make this point. A man who can strut like a peacock when he wants yet leap and look like a tiger.

Dan Jones, English fashion writer and author of a new book called Man Made: The Art Of Male Grooming, may disagree. In a recent interview to i-D, a fashion, culture and music website, Jones said he has “tried to create an authentic representation of what it’s like being the average modern man and has brought up odd hairy bits, the slightly wonky face and nipples that are two inches too low.” From moisturizers, regular facials, beard conditioners, the right vitamins and best suits to which body part to shave (and which not to), Jones has put out a DIY guide for everyone, from a teenager to an old daddy. The Dan Jones man is well groomed by conscious programming, as worried about the next haircut as about beating the pulp out of his professional competitors.

Not Bond. He would rather keep the shaving-moisturizing (and crying) a private ritual and find other imaginative uses for the white towels at plush hotels. His cool is infectious, and his fashion minus peacock routines is original style.

The Censor Board’s cuts of Craig’s “bonding” with his ladies were anticlimactic, yet I seriously suggest Bond style from Spectre. If you watched the film as unblinkingly as I did, you could not have missed Craig’s Tom Ford sunglasses with the extended T at the temple. You can find everything he wears in the film on with tips on where to shop and the prices. Much of Craig’s wardrobe in Spectre is dominated by dark colours and fine fabrics, like in Skyfall and Quantum Of Solace, and is by Tom Ford—bomber jackets, Windsor tuxedos, polo shirts, stirrup trousers, three-piece suits, an O’Connor suit (worn in the Mexico opening scene), an overcoat or two and a dozen formal shirts, mostly white. There is other stuff: a Dior Homme jacket and clingy cashmere turtleneck sweaters by N. Peal. Some snow gloves, says this site, are by Mulberry, whereas the driving gloves are by Dents leather. There is a selection of shoes by Crockett and Jones while the famous “JB” cufflinks remain eminently noticeable. Craig’s ruggedly masculine tan boots in some scenes are reportedly Sanders and Sanders Chukka boots in colours named Chocolate Suede and Snuff Suede by the brand. Deliciously masculine.