PARIS — With her radical black crop, Rooney Mara may not launch a thousands haircuts, but Hennes & Mauritz is betting young women will line up to dress like the actress when she hits screens in the eagerly awaited U.S. adaptation of “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.”
This story first appeared in the October 26, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The Swedish fast-fashion giant today will reveal that it has teamed up with Trish Summerville, the movie’s costume designer, to create a collection that will be launched on Dec. 14 in 180 stores worldwide and online, just in time for the Dec. 21 release of the David Fincher-directed film.
Inspired by Lisbeth Salander, the troubled heroine of Swedish author Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy, the 30-piece Dragon Tattoo collection by Summerville is part of H&M’s Divided lineup, which is aimed at a younger customer.
In addition to her film work, Summerville has designed stage outfits for pop acts including The Black Eyed Peas, No Doubt, Ricky Martin and Janet Jackson. This is her first time designing a full-fledged fashion line, and she drew her inspiration straight from Mara’s edgy film wardrobe.
“We put a lot of aged-in washes and finishes, which goes along the lines of the Salander character. In the film, her clothes are quite extreme. They’re really worn down, they’re dirty,” Summerville said in an exclusive interview. “So for us, it was taking that kind of concept and giving it more of a realistic fashion feel.”
Items range from $3.95 for tribal-style earrings to $199 for a leather jacket, which comes in washed black or deep burgundy.
Hoodies priced at $29.95 and battered lace-up boots at $59.95 are also part of the stylishly gritty collection, which will make its debut at Paris boutique Colette on Nov. 28 with a dedicated in-store area.
Anna Norling, division designer at H&M, said the Stockholm-based team worked to make the Salander character’s motorcycle gear more flattering and feminine.
“We were really strongly inspired by the film and especially by Trish’s styling, but the collection wouldn’t have looked as it does without H&M, because we added the fashion point of view. I’m very happy with the result and I know that Trish is as well,” she said.
Among the collectible pieces are T-shirts featuring Swedish proverbs used on promotional posters for the film. Others feature a hand-painted design that blends the Swedish and American flags, which Summerville originally designed for a photo shoot with Mara in the February issue of W magazine.
“It had a great response. We did it for our wrap crew shirt because everybody really liked it, and when W came out we had a lot of people trying to find out where to buy the shirt,” she explained.
More subtle touches include the covered studs running along the back of platform wedges. “We wanted it to have that subdermal piercing kind of feel that also ties with the Salander environment and her friends,” said Summerville.
That kind of attention to detail impressed the H&M team. “She really knows what she’s asking for and she’s so specific with her style. She doesn’t leave anything to chance,” Norling said of Summerville.
In addition to seeking specific fabrications and finishes, Summerville aimed to bring a worn-in look to seaming, topstitching and pockets.
“Definitely when I’m doing tour clothing, it is stuff that has to be a quick read. It has to be visually alluring, so things are bigger, broader and louder,” she noted. “In this line, it’s taking small details and working them in an overall effect on the garment.”
The costume designer defined Mara’s look in the movie with makeup artist Pat McGrath and hair stylist Danilo, who chopped about 10 inches from her locks and bleached her eyebrows. The actress has fake tattoos, but got her eyebrow and nipple pierced for real to get into character.
“She is amazing to work with. She’s a real hard worker, and she did an outstanding, outstanding job. She should be extremely proud of herself because it was rough. It’s a rough film to make and a rough subject matter and she was really impressive,” Summerville said.
Mara takes over the role from Noomi Rapace, who starred in the Swedish adaptations of the Millennium series. Explaining the appeal of the dysfunctional character, Summerville compared her to a grown-up version of children’s book character Pippi Longstocking — an explanation reportedly provided by Larsson himself, who died in 2004.
“She’s the adult Pippi, so I think it’s a character that has longevity,” she said. “I think that’s the reason she appeals to so many people as far as the books go, and their reading of it, because I think somewhere in everybody there’s a little part that wishes they had that Salander fearlessness.”
Still, Summerville gave kudos to H&M for doing a tie-in with the movie, which will carry an R rating, like most of Fincher’s oeuvre.
“It was really great that H&M is a strong company that can afford and wanted to do some sort of collaboration with us, because it is a very controversial book,” she said. “They were just like, ‘Yeah, she’s Swedish, she’s amazing, and we want to be a part of this.’ And that was so great to hear, because America has a little bit of a harder time with those kinds of issues. I mean, Americans are fine with violence but they’re like, ‘Oh — sex? Strong women? We’re not so sure about that,’” she said with a laugh.
The collection also got the seal of approval from Mara and Fincher. “It’s nice to get her blessing and David’s blessing, and once I showed them the pieces, they were really excited and we placed an order for Rooney so she can have one of each thing,” Summerville said.
The designer is still waiting to hear if she will be working on the second installment of the trilogy, “The Girl Who Played With Fire,” but she would be pleased to design another Salander line for H&M, and perhaps even a men’s collection inspired by Mikael Blomkvist, the character played by Daniel Craig.
Summerville has also started discussing new haircuts with Mara, who currently faces the prospect of spending several years with a Joan of Arc fringe, but she sees no major wardrobe upheaval for the Salander character — who happens to go on a shopping spree at H&M in the second book.
“We can change up certain things a bit, but I think her character is who she is. I don’t think there’s going to be a lot of drastic changes. She’s never going to end up in pink,” Summerville said.