H&M forced to defend Girl With The Dragon Tattoo fashion line after rape victim accuses chain of glamorising sex attacks
H&M”s new Girl with a Dragon Tattoo collection, which hits the major retailer”s stores today, has been accused of glamorising rape.
In an open letter to the retail giant on her blog, journalist and rape victim Natalie Karneef saidthat she recognises the type of clothes in the new fashion line becausethey give the message to men to “stay the f*** away” – but that they also put a “chic, consumerist finish” on sexual violence.
Thecollection”s place in fashion circles was secured by its worldwide dbut at trendy Paris boutique, Collette, last month.
Designed by Trish Summerville, who was in charge of costumes for the film, the clothes take a direct lead from the edgy style of heroine Lisbeth Salander.
Stockholm syndrome: H&M”s Dragon Tattoo clothing line is full of dark colours and edgy street fashion, but it has been accused of glamorising rape
Packedwith black, dark browns and greys, the line”s hooded tops, skinny coated jeans, chunky black boots, U.S. flag T-shirts and leather jacketsare all a nod to Lisbeth”s dark side and the gritty self-preservation that is attributed to her being raped by a guardian as a teenager.
But while Ms Karneef says the designs are “irresponsible” the chain says the clothes are simply all about a “strong woman who stands up for her ideals”.
The story, set in snowy Sweden, hinges upon the loner protagonist”s strength and survival and her outer image – including no-nonsense wardrobe, spiky black haircut, piercings and, of course, that tattoo – is very much part of her persona.
Writing in the Montreal Gazette, Ms Karneef says: “What message is H&M sending to the world “Look at the trendy rape survivor Look how strong she is, that she can get through all that hell and still wear cool leather jackets””
Victim: Lisbeth Salander, played by Rooney Mara, is “severely emotionally scarred” rather than being a strong, independent woman, says rape victim Natalie Karneef
The book”s late author, Stieg Larsson, was inspired to write the shocking, raw trilogy after witnessing a gang rape aged just 15.
Ms Karneef points out that while Division Designer at H&M, Anna Norling, says she is “proud” of the line because Lisbeth is the “very essence of an independent woman,” the character, played by Rooney Mara, is in fact “severely emotionally scarred” after years of abuse and violence.
The line is irresponsible, says Ms Karneef: “Sexual violence is an epidemic. Putting a chic, consumerist finish on it glosses over the lives it destroys and the spirits it breaks.
Stars: Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara at the film”s Swedish premire last night
“If H&M really believed in promoting the essence of independent women, it would donate to organizations that promote prevention and help the survivors of gender-based violence, not create a fashion line to glamorize it.”
The original open letter found its way to Fashionista.com, sparking a debate about the real roots of Lisbeth”s “armor”.
In response, the corporation released a statement to Fashionista denying any intent to offend.
Accompanying the apology, H&M says that “though we think Lisbeth is a strong woman who stands up for her ideals, we are not trying to represent her specifically. Our goal is to rather offer a collection that we see in today’s trend picture that will appeal to many customers.
“We do not view this collection as provocative – it contains pieces that are staples in many people’s wardrobes: jeans, biker jackets and t-shirts. It’s all about how you wear them. We encourage our customers to find their own personal way to wear our products.”
One reader on the fashion site, Danielle Raymond Neff, says that the “armor” was not simply down to rape, but was in “response to childhood trauma (witnessing and later protecting her mother from the abuse of her father [and] being kept in an asylum by the Swedish government.”