When Swedish retailer H&M wanted to collaborate on a Lisbeth Salander-inspired clothing line with Trish Summerville, the renowned costume designer for the upcoming David Fincher film, "Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," she jumped at the chance.
"We were really excited because a lot of times there's not tie-ins with, kind of adult thriller, R-rated films," Summerville said. "It shows the type of company H&M is ... not being afraid of what the context of the movie is about."
H&M announced Wednesday it is launching a 30-piece collection inspired by the film's anti-heroine's style -- leather motorcycle jackets, long cardigans, t-shirts, chunky shoes and jewelry in various shades of black, grey, white and dark red.
"[Lisbeth is] kind of this loner and her clothing is really worn in, you know, and is kind of holey and dirty," Summerville said. "We just took some of her pieces and then just bumped it up a notch."
The idea for the collection, Summerville added, was to develop key elements from Salander grungy look that people could work into their wardrobe.
"It's street clothing, it's adaptable," she said. "I'm not trying to make everyone look like Lisbeth Salander."
The collection will debut exclusively at Colette in Paris on Nov. 28, and then will be sold at 180 select H&M stores worldwide and online starting Dec. 14. It's a shrewd marketing move for H&M, given that Sweden is the setting of the "Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" film, which is adapted from the first novel of Stieg Larsson's international best-selling crime trilogy.
When Summerville helped transform breakout actress Rooney Mara into Salander's character, she put her in worn black leather, over-sized shirts and heavy jewelry -- bringing to life Larsson's cold but brilliant hacker protagonist.
"She can fade into the shadows if she chooses to, but then again, it's that whole constant feeling of, you're repelled and attracted by her, so we wanted to maintain that," she said. "So we didn't make her flashy, it had to be much more real. I didn't want her look like she was in a punk or Goth band."
However, Summerville said the clothing line is "more wearable" and "more fashionable" than the character who inspired it.
"I hate when I hear people use this word, 'couture,' they throw it around," Summerville added. "It's that level of, you know, that hard work that I appreciate putting in the garments, so on no level do we think we're doing anything 'couture.'"
Costume designs, including what would become the jet black, shaved mop-top haircut that dramatically changed Mara's appearance for the role, started developing before the actress was cast. Summerville said she drew much of her inspiration from Academy Award-winning production designer Don Burt, who was charged with creating "realistic habitats" for the film's characters.
"It was easy for me when I could see kind of what he was, kind of, doing to figure out each character -- you know, how they lived and what their color palettes were, and that kind of thing," she said.
That included dressing British actor Daniel Craig, who plays the lead role of investigative journalist Mikael Blomkvist and may be best known for playing James Bond.
"He was also one of my favorites," Summerville said. "He just looks great in clothing, and it was nice to kind of give him this sweater-y, soft, wrinkled look that he's, you know, you're not used to seeing him in because he's so immaculate in Bond."
When it comes to making characters look authentic, Summerville said, she is into "aging" their clothes. There's a whole science to the process -- washing leather jackets to make them look more worn, wadding or tying up pieces, sanding them, even using bleach and a mixture of lemon juice and orange juice so the acid breaks down the fabrics. But the unusual magic touch is beans.
"The girls in Sweden thought that was the funniest thing," Summerville said. "They had never seen that before, where I would sew stockings with beans and then you put them, like heavy beans, and you put them in all the pockets of the quilting so that it gives it that slouchy [look], like you had your hands in your pocket, or that you've owned something for quite a long time."
She brought her aging techniques to H&M to incorporate the look into the mass-produced line. When she first presented the collection, Summerville said seeing H&M division designer Anna Norling and creative director Donald Schneider's faces light up was a great moment. But what sealed the deal for her was when she showed it to director Fincher and Mara.
"David was like, 'It's really f---ing good,' it was just kind of like the seal of approval," Summerville said, "especially coming from Rooney, who lived the character, and David, who has such a keen eye for detail and quality."
"I have to say I'm a lucky girl right now," she added. "It's one of those things where my mom keeps reminding me, 'All your hard work is finally paid off.'"
"The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" film opens in theaters nationwide on Dec. 21.