A unique tartan celebrating the world’s greatest fictional detective is being embraced by “Sherlockians” worldwide, discovers Caroline Lindsay
How do you commemorate the works of one of the world’s greatest detective writers? Elementary, my dear Watson – you design a bespoke tartan.
Tania Henzell, the step-great-great granddaughter of Sherlock Holmes creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, decided, with full family support, to design a tartan under the name Sherlock Holmes.
“As a fashion designer based in Edinburgh I make handbags and accessories from tartan, matched with a contrasting moleskin,” she explains. Surrounded by a tide of tartan day in and out was the inspiration she needed to come up with the homage to her ancestor.
Sir Arthur was born in Edinburgh and studied medicine at Edinburgh University.
“As Conan Doyle loved the outdoors and was a great sportsman, I’m sure that if the family had a tartan he would have been seen in a kilt,” says Tania.
“Nowadays everyone seems to have a tartan to their name, Scottish or not, so I decided that Sherlock needed a tartan to his name,” she smiles. “He will be the first fictional detective to have his own tartan.”
Designed with a muted green to show Conan Doyle’s Irish ancestry, and a soft blue as he was born in Scotland, the thin blue line edged with brown represents the Reichenbach Falls where Holmes met his fate against arch enemy Moriarty.
“The gold line relates to the fact that Sherlock Holmes was the greatest detective of his time in London,” Tania adds.
The tartan is made from new wool in two weights, Reiver and Braeriach by House of Edgar from Perth and Tania is currently expanding a clothing range, including ties, deerstalkers (of course), bow ties, waistcoats, braces, capes, cummerbunds and handbags. A range of home accessories is also underway, with cushions already available.
“Having designed the tartan I now realise what a well-known character Sherlock is worldwide,” says Tania. “I’m hoping to travel to promote the tartan to “Sherlockians” worldwide – there are lots in the US, Japan, China, Russia and Australia – and with the help of the Conan Doyle Estate the Sherlock Holmes tartan will feature in both film and TV in the near future.”
Naturally, Tania has been a lifelong fan of her ancestor’s detective stories although she admits: “I enjoy watching the films rather than finding time to read the books. The Hound of the Baskervilles is probably my favourite – it’s the classic Conan Doyle novel.”
With a plethora of actors playing the great detective over the decades, including Basil Rathbone, Jeremy Brett, Robert Downey Jr and Benedict Cumberbatch, Tania’s reveals her favourite Sherlock is veteran Hammer horror stalwart Peter Cushing.
But there’s a possibility the Sherlock Holmes tartan may soon be joined by other designs.
“I might just come up with a Conan Doyle or a Moriarty tartan,” she smiles.