Noomi Rapace as Lisbeth Salander in Niels Aren Oplev’s version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.
At first glance, Lisbeth Salander is a daunting vision. A creature completely shrouded in black, her skinny leather clad legs move quickly and purposefully, securely encased in heavy black combat boots. A large hood covers her died black hair, which in turn hides her thin pale face. Metal barbells protrude from piercings in her ears, eyebrows and nose and a spiked dog collar lays fastened around her neck. Kohl lined eyes narrow as she analyses her surroundings. Everything about her look says she is trying to scare you away, yet all it does is make you want to stare at her.
Rooney Mara’s tough look in David Fincher’s 2011 interpretation of the film.
Salander is the inspiration and protagonist of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
book series, written by Swedish author and journalist Stieg Larsson. The entire series, comprising of three books (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl who Played with Fire
and The Girl who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest
) was later adapted for the screen by Danish director Niels Aren Oplev. Recently, an American version, directed by David Fincher, has hit theatres, inspiring Lisbeth Salander-mania.
So much so, that the American version’s costume designer, Trish Summerville (who has also designed the concert wardrobes of The Black Eyed Peas and Janet Jackson) teamed up with H&M to create a capsule collection inspired by Salander.
Though the collection was less than groundbreaking (black skinny jeans, torn t-shirts and cropped leather jackets have been all over the place for the last two years) the costumes in both films do give some insight into what goes into dressing a character.
Before his death in 2004, Larsson claimed that character of Lisbeth had been based on a girl he had witnessed being raped, in his youth. Though he hadn’t done anything about it at the time, he dedicated his best selling series to the girl who not only inspired his main character, but her name as well.
In the novel, she is once again abused by the men in her life, but Larsson, guilt ridden, gives his Lisbeth the tools to exact her revenge. Salander’s character is strong, cold and unyielding. Her wardrobe is an extension of that. It is threatening and meant to keep people (particularly men) at a distance. Even her profession as a talented Internet hacker and researcher is a career shrouded in secrecy, intended to maintain solitude.
After taking all this into consideration it seems quite ironic that H&M would want to make this particular look appealing to the masses.
As women we are very aware of our appearance and the messages we are sending out depending on our attire. We make sure our heels are not too high for work as not to invite unwanted attention, or our skirts are not too short. For evening we might ad a dark liner under our eye so draw a man’s gaze and maybe even shorten a hemline. Lisbeth pays the same kind of attention to her wardrobe but with a very specific mission in mind. It definitely attracts the attention of those around her but rather than attract she is like a defensive animal pointing her quills as a warning to others to stay away.