James Bond's gone Italian.

When "Goldeneye," the latest installment in the 007 series, premieres in November, star Pierce Brosnan will be dressed to kill by a 50-year-old Italian clothing company called Brioni.

"I wanted to re-create a very sort of Savile Row look for this Bond, more like the one Sean Connery had," says Lindy Hemming, the film's costume designer, whose other credits include "Four Weddings and a Funeral" and "My Beautiful Laundrette." But it turns out that tailoring impeccable enough for Her Majesty's Secret Service is to be found only in Italy. "Everyone is of the opinion that Connery's Bond films never look dated. I wanted to get back to a classic, classic look, and Brioni is a respected company who dresses a special kind of gentleman."

Al Pacino, Sidney Poitier, Donald Trump have all worn Brioni suits, as did old Hollywood royalty like Clark Gable, Gary Cooper and John Wayne. Nelson Mandela wore a navy single-breasted Brioni suit when he was inaugurated as president of South Africa.

"The fit, the style, the fabric and the tailoring are why I wear Brioni suits," says Willie Brown, former speaker of the California State Assembly who is now running for mayor of San Francisco. "It's perhaps the only suit you can wear with a Beretta beneath your jacket, and no one would know you have it," Brown says, referring to 007's handgun.

"Brioni suits are in a very different league than {Ermenegildo} Zegna Boss or even Armani," says Derrill Osburn, director of men's clothing for Neiman Marcus. "They are the very best hand-tailored suits in the world."

J.D. Murphy, president of Computech, a Bethesda-based software development company, says: "A lot of men don't want to stick out. Brioni makes classic business suits with classic tailoring. . . .

"When you want to look your best, you put on your best suit. When I want to look my best, I put on a Brioni suit."

Elegance does have its price, of course. On average, a Brioni suit retails for $2,500, though a few are priced as high as $7,000.

Retailers and clients alike cite Brioni's attention to detail and the 120-thread-count fabrics as major draws. "Besides the fine-quality fabric, the time it takes to make the garment, the expert tailors, you get a hefty price tag," says Mike Colen, co-owner of James, Ltd., a McLean-based chain of menswear stores. "It's like asking why a Mercedes is different from an American car. Some people would say, It rides, doesn't it?' Well, the discriminating customer knows the difference."

Hemming looked at the work of Armani, Hugo Boss and Canali, who have designed for films in the past. But then she went to the Brioni factory in Penne, Italy, where she recalls seeing "these units of people sewing buttonholes, pockets, flaps, seams, everything by hand. I thought that this was absolutely the perfect solution. The suits were lightweight and modern in a way that felt perfect."

Brosnan was presented with 50 handmade suits, most of which didn't survive the rigors of filming. "Of the 50 original suits," Hemming says, "only five remained unscathed. The rest were worn, and had rips and tears. They were absolutely ruined."

Brioni caters, predictably, to an exclusive, moneyed clientele. "I think they're one of the best-kept secrets in the world," says Neiman's Osburn, whose Tysons Corner and Mazza Gallerie stores have been selling Brioni for five years and count the company as one of their top vendors.

Jeanne Rose, public relations manager for Neiman Marcus at Tysons Corner, says that the Washingtonian who buys Brioni is typically "a highly successful and cleanly tailored professional man who is focused on his image and appearance."

"What I think is really interesting," says Osburn, "is that in this time, when the world is talking about the workplace becoming more casual, one of our folk heroes is going the opposite way -- back to being well dressed."

"Before this film, the Bond movies were never really about fashion; they were action-adventure pieces," says Joseph Barrato, CEO of Brioni in this country. "Now, through their association with us, Bond has a very mature, elegant wardrobe."

In the end, Barrato hopes the partnership between Bond and Brioni will make a lasting impression on the public. "We just hope that this film will make men more aware of how to dress like a gentleman again." CAPTION: Sean Connery in "From Russia With Love": The last Bond with a classic look? CAPTION: Pierce Brosnan, who stars as James Bond in the upcoming movie "Goldeneye," in a Brioni suit. CAPTION: For his new role as James Bond in "Goldeneye," Pierce Brosnan was outfitted by Italy's Brioni tailors, whose suits average $2,500.