The Girls Who <3 Leather

From the mid-1990s to early 2000s, there was a sort of moral panic associated with “hackers” and this crazy newfangled thing called the Internet. Movies like Hackers and The Matrix treated their characters like lawless individuals in a new Wild West—no rules, no moral compasses, just a bunch of hooligans speaking a lot of gibberish. And how did they use clothing to let people know they were scary? LEATHER. All leather, all the time. Pale skin from all that time indoors, facial piercings because they weren’t concerned with getting a good job, smudged eyeliner because they just didn’t give a fuck. Paired with some ridiculous sunglasses, outlandish hair, and huge jeans, they were dressed like every parent’s worst nightmare. Of course they all looked amazing.

Today, the stereotypical image of a person who works with computers is more likely to be a young female blogger or a clean shaven man in his mid-30s. But the American version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, released today, is set in 2002, and Lisbeth Salander is still intended to look as scary as possible. I’m personally finding her look unbelievably cool. Of course her tattoos are amazing, but I’m equally inspired by her bleached eyebrows, severely cut hair, and clothes that aren’t so much “disheveled” as “so torn up that they are actually hanging on by a thread.” I want to look just like her, but I’d probably cross the street if I saw her coming.

The difference today is that I think Lisbeth is supposed to look aspirational—H&M is even selling a line of clothes based on her costumes from the film. In retrospect, I think all the women look pretty amazing: Angelina’s motorcycle jacket from Hackers, Trinity in her head-to-toe skintight leather, even Ms. Calendar (R.I.P.) in her leather jacket. Maybe when we all get sick of the 1990s grunge look we can move on to 90s hackers?

I can’t defend what’s going on with Julia Stiles though. That console cowboy is whack.

text by Haley Mlotek
video by Daniel Reis