Forget 007. The Real James Bond Style Icon Is Boris From Goldeneye

Fashion
Alan Cumming’s computer hacker was way ahead of his time, style-wise.

Alan Cumming as Boris Grishenko in GoldenEye 1995.

Alan Cumming as Boris Grishenko in GoldenEye, 1995.Keith Hamshere / Getty Images

Few cinematic icons are more beloved, admired, and respected than James Bond. And crucial to Bond’s appeal is the Bond persona, carefully engineered over decades of films to be desirable and aspirational—the cars, the toys, the suave demeanor, and (of course) the fashion. The 007 lifestyle has spawned watch and car collaborations, whole sites devoted to the man, and even blog posts chronicling the history of a single look. But with time, the appeal of the Bond lifestyle has waned: No Time to Die, the latest film in the franchise, is said to reckon with the boozing, womanizing spy’s place in the world. Helpfully, there’s an unconventional style icon—right for the moment, and for the time—sitting in plain sight. 1995’s Goldeneye is notable for being the first Pierce Brosnan Bond adventure, as well as the foundation for one of the most beloved videogames of all time. But it’s also the birthplace of a genuine style legend whose fashion merits wouldn’t be recognized until a full two decades later.

Enter Boris Grishenko.

Alan Cumming as Boris Grishenko in GoldenEye, 1995.Everett Collection / Courtesy of United Artists

Stick with us here. Alan Cumming’s Goldeneye villain was once hailed—by this very site!—as one of the worst-dressed Bond villains of all time. Time heals all wounds, however, and a reexamination of Boris’s sartorial choices in 2020 reveals he ultimately got the last laugh. In a handful of scenes, Boris provides a prescient template of men’s casual style.

Boris first appears in Goldeneye’s Siberia sequence, quickly demonstrating unparalleled hacking skills as he slips past the US Department of Defense’s cybersecurity with ease. At first blush, we can tell — based on his beat-to-hell biker jacket, hoodie with a graphic tee over top of it, and matching trousers — he’s distinct from his more traditional coworkers. A mostly monochromatic look pops thanks to a Vault Boy-esque graphic tee and statement leather jacket, two items of clothing you probably already have hanging in your closet. On the whole, Boris’ look manages to reflect the punk, anti-establishment sensibility he conveys through his hacking ways throughout the movie—while also being a fantastic option to wear while running errands on a brisk weekend.

Though it’s a little difficult to tell on screen, Boris’s second outfit is a red-wine winter parka complete with fur-trim: essentially Canada Goose before it became popular. He layers it on top of the aforementioned leather jacket ensemble for an outfit not dissimilar from what you’d see in any frozen cityscape circa 2021. Yet, true to his nature, the merlot hue of the parka distinctively pops. Siberia, especially in 1995, doesn’t seem like the most fashion-forward of cities, so we choose to believe the color is an intentional choice, another way for Boris to further stick out from the crowd of “slugheads” he so detests.

Alan Cumming as Boris Grishenko in GoldenEye, 1995.Everett Collection / Courtesy of United Artists

After dipping out for a cigarette to let Xenia Onatopp (Famke Janssen) into the facility—and thusly setting a large portion of the movie’s plot into motion—Boris is largely removed from Goldeneye until its final act in Cuba. But once he returns, he does so with an all-timer of a fit. The red, yellow, and green geometric print is summertime-ready and certainly evokes feelings of the bold, unhinged camp collar shirts we’ve seen in recent collections. While it’s hard to get a look at the full ensemble on the screen, Boris’s Goldeneye videogame model shows shorts and sneakers (complete with just a touch of sock showing.) Is this all sounding familiar? A bold patterned shirt, Baggies, and some slick sneakers? That’s a right-now summer look…a whole 26 years ahead of schedule.

There’s no doubt Bond will retain his status as menswear royalty. But what makes Boris so compelling is not only his prediction of current trends but the inherent mellowness of his style. Boris is a villain, but he’s not unapproachable. Instead, Boris’s outfits are for everybody: they’re basics, executed to perfection, and are more attainable than a custom Tom Ford tux, Billy Reid peacoat, or Barbour jacket. Perhaps it’s not surprising a generation of millennials who grew up playing hours of Goldeneye on N64 would, in turn, find fashion inspiration—intentional or otherwise—from a dweebish hacker. In this way, Boris Grishenko’s style is the thing that’s truly invincible.

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