It takes sinew and plenty of smarts to make a female action hero, and if you are among the new breed of wonder women dispatching villains at the multiplex these days, it takes an industrial-strength wardrobe to die for.
Trish Summerville, who designed the costumes for "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," has the formula: a biker jacket, a long hooded overcoat, holey cardigans and shredded tees - the components, as it happens, of a micro-collection Ms. Summerville whipped up in December as a homage to that movie's central character.
She is Lisbeth Salander, the agile hacker played by Rooney Mara in the American film adaptation of the Stieg Larsson thriller, her red-lined eyes, freakish piercings and body ink suggesting a hybrid of alien and street thug.
She is the latest pop phenomenon driving a resurgence of leather and spikes, shredded jeans and scruffy combat boots. Ms. Mara revived the subversive mélange of goth, punk, classic rock and fetishwear that has been eclipsed on the runways of late by Kate Middleton clones, and infused it with perverse allure.
Ms. Mara's image, an extension of her razor- chic film character, has been all but inescapable, splashed on the covers of Wand Vogue, glaring from movie posters and materializing at red-carpet events.
Hers is "the most dynamic character to jump off the screen in some time," said Rocky Rakovic, a counterculture pundit and the editor of Inked magazine. Leslie Simon, the author of "Geek Girls Unite: How Fangirls, Bookworms,
Indie Chicks, and Other Misfits Are Taking Over the World," noted that Salander's tomboy regalia had long been the standard in Hollywood, where a conviction persists that a female vigilante "can't be girly to do what stereotypically is a guy's job."
Still, poured into shapely gothtinctured gowns with labels like Nina Ricci and Prabal Gurung for her red carpet star turns this year, Ms. Mara tempered her screen persona with a lissome femininity.
Her saturnine look in the movie mirrors that in several collections on the fall runways. Louis Vuitton and the Alexanders, McQueen and Wang, were among an influential handful of fashion houses offering exalted variations on
A more untamed style was resurrected for spring at the Givenchy couture presentation. There the designer Riccardo Tisci adorned his models with multiple piercings and an armor of crocodile skin.
Tattoo artists are cashing in, as are high-end hair salons, which are seeing more interest in severe cuts. "I have been doing a lot of blunt micro bangs and chopping bobs," Sally Hershberger said. The look, she added, "says, ‘Don't mess with me.' It's sexy in a strong new way."
Diane Leach, who writes for Pop-Matters, an online magazine, said Salander's skinny pants put her in mind of the rocker Joan Jett, who, despite her diminutive stature, "projects this large persona."
Salander, a tiny figure, too, seems just as towering, her outsize image an outgrowth of her moral absolutism. "Corruption offends her," Ms. Leach observed.
She's taking names and delivering payback. And, Ms. Leach said, "she's not about to do that in a pair of Miu Miu shoes."