x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Sherlock Holmes: always in fashion

A look back at fictional Hollywood characters who can still influence today's fashionable man.

Robert Downey Jr as Sherlock Holmes and Jude Law as Dr Watson. Courtesy Warner Bros
Robert Downey Jr as Sherlock Holmes and Jude Law as Dr Watson. Courtesy Warner Bros

The recent release of Guy Richie's second Sherlock Holmes film is a harsh reminder that today's fashionable man has no contemporary role model.

Men who are in the news, be they politicians, rebel leaders or members of royalty, offer very little worth striving to emulate. I, for one, am bored.

Even when working the red carpet, Hollywood's and Bollywood's current leading men leave much to be desired. When in front of the camera, however, Hollywood has captured characters who still possess gravitas. And for a man who aspires to reflect his times, fictitious characters can still inspire.

Beginning in chronological order, the first - or oldest - fictitious character who can still influence today's fashionable man is my favourite cold-weather dresser: Sherlock Holmes (1887). The tweeds and the wools, the cuffs on the trousers, the shoes, the overcoats, even the hats, which allow him to express his individuality, all work together to put Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's greatest creation at the top of the fashion food chain. And with Dr Watson at his side, the pair set the fashion bar high for all sleuths to follow.

Next up is the great Belgian detective Hercule Poirot (1920). Poirot has substance and although his station in life makes it difficult to dress the way he does and be as fussy about it as he is, he nevertheless tries. He is what we should all aspire to be: a man determined to look his best regardless of the job or the circumstances. The moustache does bother me, but the pocket watch more than makes up for it.

In 1930, the world was introduced to Dashielle Hammett's Sam Spade in The Maltese Falcon. What is most appealing about Spade's attire is its utter practicality. Unlike his above-and-beyond-the-call-of-duty personal code, his wardrobe is simply what should be expected from a man who is trying to do his best in a world that tries to destroy the best (or so Hammett would have you believe).

Spade maintains a strict adherence to what he knows to be right and that carries over from his job to his fashion choices. He will figure out who killed his partner, Myles Archer, and he will look good doing it.

Another of Hammett's creations is Nick Charles, who makes his debut in the 1934 novel The Thin Man. Charles has it all: a party lifestyle; a liberated wife, Nora, who is the driving force behind his success; wealth and excellent fashion taste. Unlike so many men, he backs up his appearance with substance. He pretends too much that he doesn't care when, in fact, he does. He just hides it well.

The most recent creation is Indiana Jones. Although it was 1981 when the world first set eyes upon him, the first film was set in 1936. With Dr Jones, there are two ways to go: fighting Nazis with a whip, boots, fedora and leather jacket; or as Professor Jones in a late 1930s university lecture hall with a tweed suit, waistcoat and brogues. Either way, the options are compelling.

Although the youngest fashion icon on this list is 76 years old (32 if you prefer to go by when the first Indiana Jones film was released), these men and their style - unlike fickle fashion sense - never grow old. As Holmes would say, it's elementary.




Michael Jabri-Pickett is the news editor at The National