From The Chad McQueen Collection The Bullitt  Jacket
Lot 100
From The Chad McQueen Collection
The Bullitt Jacket
Lot Details
From The Chad McQueen Collection
The Bullitt Jacket

Whenever Steve McQueen donned a piece of clothing or apparel, inevitably it became fashionable. But when he donned a dark blue turtleneck and brown herringbone tweed jacket in the movie Bullitt – the most influential set of Ivy threads in movie history – McQueen crossed over into the realm of popular culture and became 'The King of Cool.' More than three-and-a-half decades later, his impact on films, cars, motorcycles and fashion are still talked about and emulated.

While one of the biggest box-office attractions of the 1960s and 1970s, McQueen has been reinvented since his 1980 death as much more than a movie star. In today's world, he is a silent pitchman, a fashion icon, an enduring mythical figure of alpha-male coolness, and his image and likeness are everywhere.

Where to begin with McQueen and fashion? Perhaps the Dark Seal Brown Type A-2 flight jacket he sported in the The Great Escape or the white Baracuta Harrington jacket with upturned collar that he pioneered in the early '60s? Later, he made the Belstaff Trialmaster jacket an icon in its own right. Who could forget McQueen's slim-fitting mod style Saville Row three-piece suits, blue lens tortoiseshell Persol sunglasses, and perfectly snipped hair from The Thomas Crown Affair, which created a timeless image of opulence. In Le Mans, McQueen set a global trend when wearing a Heuer wristwatch, which remains a multi-million dollar business more than four decades later with McQueen's image front and center.

In 1968's Bullitt, McQueen made the most unlikely items extremely fashionable – desert boots, a trench coat, a blue turtleneck sweater and a brown tweed jacket. Only McQueen could make those clothing items – and a Ford Mustang GT fastback – global trends and a smash film that would benefit from the greatest on-screen car chase of all time.

Ah yes, the chase...

The rollicking nine-minute pursuit between the Mustang GT fastback and the Dodge Charger started around Easter 1968. The high-speed chase spanned five San Francisco districts, and reached speeds of up to 124 miles per hour. McQueen and stunt driver Bill Hickman, who drove the Dodge Charger, practiced chasing each other at an abandoned airfield in Santa Rosa to get a feel for one another, at times reaching out with their free hand to touch the other car. Practice, however, didn't mean things went perfect during the filming. McQueen crashed the Mustang at least three times and during the famed hill-jumping sequence, the brakes went out on the car. McQueen managed to slow down the Mustang by downshifting and maneuvering the vehicle on a street that inclined upward.

Bullitt didn't just start a new trend. It became the gold standard for all car-chase films. The chase has often been imitated, but never duplicated. Forty-five years later, the chase is near mythical around the world and cannot be toppled. Everything associated with the film has become the stuff of legends – the backstory, the in-fighting between McQueen and the studio, the cars, the chase, the actors, the derring-do of the men behind the wheels, the props and the clothes.

Perhaps no other piece of clothing was more important than the wool three-button jacket with suede elbow patches, which was a creation of Academy Award-winning costume designer Theadora van Runkle ("Bonnie and Clyde", "The Thomas Crown Affair" and "The Godfather: Part II"). The tweed jacket, worn by McQueen throughout the chase, is often visible while the superstar wheeled through the streets of San Francisco in his green fastback Mustang in hot pursuit of shotgun-wielding hit men.

Presented from the Chad McQueen Collection, this Theadora Van Runkle piece has been in the hands of the McQueen family for forty six years.

The jacket was retained by Steve McQueen post-production and eventually handed to his son Chad during a 'clear out session' - Chad has retained it ever since. Courtesy of Chad, the piece took a sojourn for a period while on public display at the Warner Bros Museum in Burbank, California - today The Bullitt Jacket is presented, having seen little wear, in fine original condition having been respectfully cared for by Chad - it is in effect as last worn by Steve McQueen as Lieutenant Frank Bullitt.

The jacket, much like the man, occupies a very special place in cinematic history, it is unquestionably one of the most important pieces of film –and McQueen memorabilia extant. Even McQueen, who was known for his devil-may-care attitude, would raise a crooked smile at the irony.
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