(NEW YORK) — Lisbeth Salander is a rape victim, an abuse survivor and a heroine in the The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, and the fictional character will also become a style icon if the clothing line by H&M is any indication.
The clothing line that sold out in Los Angeles in ten minutes, according to the designer, is under fire by blogger Natalie Karneef who wrote a blog item titled “An Open Letter to H&M from a Rape Survivor”: “…H&M, you have created a line of clothing based on her character: a woman who has suffered a lifetime of abuse, who is violently raped, and who is hunting down a man who violently rapes and kills other women.”
“Lisbeth has been through hell, and her clothing is her armor. That’s her choice, and it’s an understandable choice. But you glamorize it, putting a glossy, trendy finish on the face of sexual violence and the rage and fear it leaves behind.”
H&M did not return our request for comment. In a statement to the Wall Street Journal, a spokesperson for H&M wrote, “We have read the open letter by Natalie Karnefwe apologize if she or anyone has been offended by the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo collection by Trish Summerville — this has not in any way been our intent. The collection is based on and inspired by the film and character Lisbeth Salander and though we think Lisbeth is a strong woman who stands up for her ideal, we are not trying to represent her specifically.”
The spokesperson continued, “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.”
The brand also came under fire last week for using virtual models to sell apparel online.
The 30-piece Dragon Tattoo collection that ranges in price from $9.95 to $199 is the work of Trish Summerville, who worked as the costume designer for the David Fincher film. The costume design for the Swedish trilogy was done by Cilla Rorby.
Summerville declined to comment for our story.
The clothing line is a marriage of grays and black is made for mass consumption. In the past, H&M has done collections with Madonna, Stella McCartney and other famous people.
“At issue is not H&M glamorizing rape, says Karneef, but “glamorizing surviving rape.” The release of the line comes days ahead of the Dec. 21 opening of the English speaking version of Dragon starring Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara.
“My fear is that people will watch the film and have this impression of the heroine and what she endured to be that person,” Karneef told ABC News. “I did not go through what she went through but I don’t want people to not acknowledge how much [rape] destroys a life. Any type of abuse breaks a person down.”
“It’s really easy to say ‘yeah, she is cool’ but what [Lisbeth] went through is really disturbing,” she continued.
The book is a part of the Millennium series that brought to life the Salander character after the author was allegedly wracked with guilt after witnessing a gang rape or, as a former colleague stated, it came from a desire to create an aged and dysfunctional Pippi Longstocking-like character.
But with nearly 1 in 5 women in the U.S. being a victim of rape, according to a recent survey by the CDC, Karneef says it’s important that people think about the issue.
“I think it’s a negative connection to make with fashion,” the 34-year-old Montreal resident, Karneef, told ABC News. “I wanted people to think about before they went out and bought the clothes.”I think they’re trying to reach people that see her as a hero and my fear is they’re trying to target people who aren’t going to think about what’s behind why she is the hero that she is,” Karneef told ABC News.
“I fear people will think that what she ‘s been through is not a big deal. That’s a prevalent line in our culture: ‘Get over it.'”
Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio
Kevin Liptak, Peter Morris and Shimon Prokupecz, CNN
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Carma Hassan and Vivian Kuo, CNN
Eli Watkins, CNN