It has recently come to my attention that H&M are launching a range of clothes inspired by the character Lisbeth Salander from Stieg Larrson’s incredible book series. (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest. Collectively known as ‘The Millenium Trilogy’)
…so, Goth, black, leather… fair enough… but a fashion range? Errr… anyone who has read the books or seen the amazing movie can tell you that Lisbeth Salander doesn’t care about fashion. She wears clothes because they keep her warm and mean that she doesn’t get locked up for public indecency. As for what she wears… old jeans, scruffy t-shirts, piercings and tattoos… hardly the stuff to make a fashionista’s heart beat faster
This is a picture of actress Noomi Rapace from the original Swedish Girl With The Dragon Tattoo movies and you can see what I mean. It works but it’s not meant to be stylish. I’ll admit I had a very hard time picturing anyone else but Rapace as Salander, so when I heard about an American remake I had my doubts, but judging from promo pics Rooney Mara can scruff up nicely. Whether she can pull off the attitude or not remains to be seen
You see, it’s not the clothes, make up or piercings that make Salander such a unique character, it’s her attitude. She’s anti-social, non-conformist bitch and is completely unlike any other fictional heroine that has came before her.
All this reminds me of a class discussion I was part of a few years ago back in Gateshead. The idea of being able to just ‘buy’ an identity off the shelves may seem stupid and unrealistic but just look at what happens. A kid who wants to be accepted as part of a peer group goes out and buys clothes and music that conforms to the rest of the group. As if having the same jacket will change who they are. Likewise a rebellious kid will go against that and choose to buy non-fashionable, shocking clothes in order to distance themselves from one group (I’m going to say ‘the popular crowd’ having been the teenage goth). Yet this becomes a way to find other people who have the same sort of interests and form new social groups.
Somewhere down the line someone has decided ‘That’s cool, I want to be a part of it’. Whatever ‘That’ is isn’t important right now. What is is the fact that the person has found something they want to be identified with. In this case, Lisbeth Salander is cool and edgy, and people who want to be identified as being cool and edgy will buy this stuff as it has the name ‘Lisbeth Salander’ attached to it. It doesn’t change who you are as a person. A woman wearing a Lisbeth Salander jacket probably is’t going to be able to hack into any computers, just like a kid who’s got some Nike trainers isn’t going to be able to run faster or jump higher. What these people want is for other people to look at them and think ‘That’s cool’.
Just for the record, if Salander was a real person, she’d probably hack into the companies bank accounts and help herself to the profits from the range. They are making money in HER name after all
As for myself… it goes on sale December 14th. I may have a look to see what the fuss is all about. I’d prefer to see for myself whether it’s worth spending my money on regardless of the name on the label. And if I can find something better somewhere else… Well, that’s my decision to make now, isn’t it?