There are several undeniably ironic things about H&M’s Dragon Tattoo collection. First and foremost, it seems paradoxical to mass-produce clothes which emulate what is described on H&M’s website as the “unique style of our favourite anti-heroine, Lisbeth Salander”. Add to this the fact that the said anti-heroine is a rape-victim turned vengeful torturer and potential murderer, and we have ourselves a lethal cocktail of controversy, just asking to spurn a wave of media frenzy. Indeed, a quick Google search for Dragon Tattoo range H&M generates top hits that include “Girl With The Dragon Tattoo H&M line accused of glamorising sex” and “H&M forced to defend Girl With The Dragon Tattoo fashion line”… Yet, perhaps rather tellingly, both these articles were published by the sensationalist newspaper the Daily Mail, which has been responsible for such recent headlines as “At least he’s keeping his eyes on the road! Chinese businessman caught fondling passenger’s breast at traffic lights”. In other words, these articles are ultimately stuff and nonsense, seeking controversy for the sake of selling papers.
It is my belief that the Dragon Tattoo range is more ironic than insensitive. In a recent interview with the Sunday Times, Rooney Mara, who plays Lisbeth in David Fincher’s 2011 film adaption of the book, reasoned that Lisbeth’s style is intended to repel the world. Far from drawing attention, Mara believes that Lisbeth’s clothes give the intended message that she is, and wants to remain, an outsider. Furthermore, author of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo Stieg Larsson claimed that Lisbeth may be looked upon as a kind of sociopath, due to her inability to conform to social norms. It therefore seems infinitely more amusing than it does sinister to picture hundreds of high street shoppers kitting themselves out in clothes inspired by the style of a sociopathic outsider, who abhors all things mainstream.
…the Dragon Tattoo line glamorises sexual violence…
Furthermore, if one is to take the view that the Dragon Tattoo line glamorises sexual violence, one might as well say that the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo film is equally at fault for exploiting it. Or that the author of the internationally bestselling novel was at fault for commercialising the victimisation of a vulnerable young woman. I mean, where does it end?
Looking objectively at the range, it is certainly more orthodox and less offensive than other products aimed at young girls, for example T-shirts that pronounce them to be a “Playboy Bunny” and their buttocks to be “Juicy”. The Dragon Tattoo range seems demure in comparison to this, and what’s more, the clothes themselves are not that different from those currently available in most high street stores. The Girl-Boy and Fetish trends of AW11 have ensured that leather, slashed dark denim and baggy T-shirts are all the rage; they are certainly not exclusive to H&M’s Dragon Tattoo collection, or to Lisbeth Salander.
The clothes themselves are certainly not provocative…
It is true that H&M’s official statement, declaring that clothes from the Dragon tattoo line represent “a strong woman who stands up for her ideals”, is somewhat puzzling: violence and torture are not usually adopted as socially acceptable forms of morality. However, to attack the clothing range as exploitative of a rape victim’s trauma, without tarring the film versions of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and the book itself with the same brush, seems hypocritical to say the least. The clothes themselves are certainly not provocative, and are frankly indistinguishable amongst other AW11 collections that incorporate this season’s Girl-Boy and Fetish vibes.
Image courtesy of H&M