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Piecing Together Sherlock Holmes's London
"Are you aware that is the first combination of bascule and suspension bridge? What an industrious empire!”

In creating a tangible feel of Sherlock Holmes's London, Guy Ritchie wanted to portray a city at the crossroads between the past and a newly dawning future—an expansive and gritty place with bold new architecture being layered over the old. "As the center of the Industrial Revolution, London really was throbbing with enthusiasm and creative energy,” Ritchie observes. "Tower Bridge was being built, one of the many very ambitious things the Victorians were undertaking at the time.”

"The film is set when the British Empire is at its height,” adds Robert Downey Jr. "There was a sense of being on the cusp of the modern age, with a real interest in technological developments.” The directive on all levels of design was to be at once authentic and grounded in the reality of the times while also creating a fresh look for Holmes's world. "That was the key to this film,” says costume designer Jenny Beavan. "My instruction was to avoid the infamous deerstalker hat that has become emblematic of the old Holmes,” she continues, noting that the deerstalker hat did not come from Conan Doyle's words but from an early illustration of one of the stories. "Our Holmes has a rumpled, scruffy look.

You get the sense that he throws his clothes on the floor when he's done with them and picks anything out of the pile when he gets dressed. For example, he wears a dinner jacket for the meal with Watson and his fiancée Mary but gets the shirt and cravat just slightly wrong. There's a bit of a vintage store feel to his clothes.”

"In the books, as in the film, we know that Holmes can spend weeks at a time holed up in his rooms, lying on the sofa, doing nothing,” comments Wigram. "If so, chances are he'd look a bit of a mess. He's something of a Bohemian, so we took a more unconventional, romantic view for his wardrobe. We imagined he'd dress more like an artist or a poet than a businessman or gentleman of the era—I was thinking along the lines of the Rolling Stones in their Victorian phase,” he smiles.

In stark contrast to Holmes, Watson's wardrobe is neat and smart, pristine and highly groomed. As a former soldier who has recently returned from the war in Afghanistan, his dress code is defined by his military background. "Thick Harris tweeds give Watson a solidity, a man-of-the-Earth look,” says Beavan. "His three-piece suits are in browns and blues and he dons a square crown bowler, which is very proper and masculine and felt very Watson-like.”

Irene Adler's costumes were particularly detailed, as well. For Irene, Beavan took authentic 19th-century costumes and gave them a twist. "The cutting and patterns are contemporary to the era, but I decided to use accents of strong colors—shocking pinks and blues—to lift them,” Beavan explains.

She also dressed Irene in some softer colors, such as the blue suit with black lace blouse in the Punch Bowl scenes, and a practical Donegal tweed suit for when she goes on the run. Fabrics for Irene's dresses included duchess satin shaped into highly sculptural swirls and twists, and silk velvet. One of Beavan's most inventive creations was Irene's coat which splits to accommodate the bustle on the dress and features large sleeves to conceal weapons. She also has a number of hats, including two small bowlers.

To show Irene's softer side, as well as her international style, Beavan created a beautiful silk kimono in shades of mauve and gold. "I was fortunate to find the perfect material in my own shop,” she recalls. "It was a silk damask with a slight floral weave. What made the material really striking was when we dyed it, the pattern separated, giving it a lot of dimension.”

The jewelry worn by Rachel McAdams's character, Irene Adler, and Kel


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