I was already primed and vulnerable to becoming completely obsessed with the film Hanna, from being engrossed in the book The Hunger Games and thus spending most of my spare time pummeling my psyche with imaginings of girls with bows and arrows shooting animals in the woods and generally running for their lives. But even if I hadn’t been brainwashing myself into a fixation with hunter-gatherer girls, I would have dug Hanna. It’s a plain-old great action film that’s awesomely cast and stars a totally amazing half-feral girl who’s killing and outwitting everyone. But what makes it not just a great film but actually enchanting is the intense aesthetics of the film – the costuming, lighting, the props and the locations – all of it does beauty’s supreme trick of transporting you to another realm, dazzling you with details and making you forget, temporarily, that there is anywhere else to be.

But really the movie is incredible because of this girl, Saoirse Ronan, who so becomes the title character and convinces me of her existence that I now can’t look at photos of her as, you know, an actress, just regular in the world, because it breaks my heart to see her looking so mundane and, like an arrow to my heart, reminds me, as my mother repeatedly did when I was a child, that movies are make believe. Saoirse – let’s call her Hanna, shall we, forever – grows up in the Arctic, wearing amazing furs that are just belted chicly all over her body, and a giant fur hat so her ears don’t fall, off with frostbite, and she’s got these raggedy little pelt legwarmers hung around her legs and boots, and even wears an animal paw on a piece of rawhide, like a necklace. Yes, it is cruel, but it’s for survival – living in the Arctic circle means never having to say you’re sorry to fur protesters.

Raquel Zimmerman does not give a fuck.

Anyway, a bow and arrow seem like the ultimate romantic female accessory-weapon right now. Unlike a gun, which brings to mind anger, revenge, sanity snapped in half, enormity and mayhem, bows and arrows are elegant, intelligent, quiet; they’re internal and suggest solitude. With a gun you imagine a woman screaming I’m going to fucking kill all of you motherfuckerssssssss! while the blast hits her shoulder and sends her smashing back against a wall or something. With a bow and arrow, a breathless stillness is required; rather than exploding outward the girl kind of goes inward with concentration and then executes a single perfect movement. I’m so into it. Let’s see.This is exactly what I’m talking about.  Also, Hunter-Gatherer hair is always great – either in a practical braid or updo, or totally wild because you’ve been living deep in the woods with nothing but your bow and arrow. And maybe a crimping iron. And a teasing comb.

I stole this photo from the web site of Brain George, a fashion photographer who caught these shots of models backstage at a group show at Milan Fashion Week. Look how lovely a bow is! Do your fingers slip into that ruched thing, or are they gloves? I do like when an accessory requires an accessory.

This is Hermes FW 10/11, and that is a gorgeous couture bow. Speaking of accessories that require accessories, your arrows need a lovely quiver to contain them, and your quiver should have an buttery leather strap holding it to your drapey suede coat.

I love a drapey hood, too. I take from this photo that a woman can engage in archery while wearing a pair of platform footwear. Yes! I have found my sport at last.

If this cutely-clad nerd can do it, I feel confident that I too can shoot a bow, despite not having grown up scavenging for food like Katniss in The Hunger Games or having my DNA tampered with by The Man like ol’ Hanna. In fact, archery is a sport that women have been practicing  – or allowed to practice, thanks, patriarchy! – for a long time, even competing in the Olympics in the early 1900s.

As these Victorian ladies show us, there is no costume too fussy to interfere with a lady’s archery game! And look at her be-ribboned quiver cast casually upon the ground!

A slender and ornamented quiver. Women were permitted to practice archery because it was ‘ladylike.’ Well, it is, when practiced by ladies.

When practiced by 80s B-movie cannibals, it’s a little sexier. Here is a still from Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death. For real, that is the name if the movie. That face paint is very Duran Duran Rio and totally works.

Daria Werbory with unfortunate fake tribal tattoos on her legs and a big-ass bow. And Proenza Schouler. The ultimate in practical Hunter-Gatherer hairdos: cornrows.Daria looked so right with a bow that she was cast as the ultimate Lady with a Bow, Artemis, goddess of the hunt, in the Karl Lagerfeld-shot 2011 Pirelli calendar. The mystical connection between women and the bow and arrow continues – because women own the moon and the crescent moon resembles a bow, we get that, too. Artemis was also a lone lady in the woods who wouldn’t marry and hung out with tons of animals. Sound familiar?

Was this little moon Artemis wore on her head the first tiara? I want one very, very much. I’ll actually take everything she’s got in this painting, including the landscape.

Ricardo Tisci designed this archer uniform for the 2008 Olympics, to be auctioned for charity. Look at that glove! Even the bandaged fingers look cool.

That’s not how you hold the bow, Lindsay. Drunk again! Sheepskin-lined moccasin boots are the perfect cover-up for a house arrest ankle bracelet. No joke.

Awww, forget it.

The couple who  – what is the verb of archery? Arches? Hmmmm. Anyway, George Harrison’s son Dhani and model Sasha Pivovarova throw on some decadent duds and practice their archery on some Persian rugs in the garden. Must be nice.

I hope you’re enjoying this post because it’s going to go on forever. Here is huntress Hanna tending her kill and pondering whether or not she’ll have to snap her dad’s neck. Eric Bana looks hot in a pile of pelts. This family is really making the case for using every part of the animal. Let’s see some Arctic Hunter-Gatherer-inspired fashions, shall we? Remember – they had to kill the animals or else they would have died! Let’s go!

Alexander McQueen always had an eye trained on the glamour of cruelty and it appears Sarah Burton will continue with the tradition.

What was Raquel Zimmerman hunting in this grotesquely beautiful McQueen? Russian models?

Dennis Basso. I’m mad about that belt.

Tail necklace by Gisele Ganne

Arctic explorer Josephine Peary published her memoir of her travels, My Arctic Journal, in 1893. Note the quiver.

Roberto Cavalli

All the Arctic scenes in Hanna were shot on location in Finland. But lest you think that the people of Finland spend their days wrapped in Elk pelts and rabbit-foot necklaces, here is some Finnish street fashion for you:

Reality Check

Our heroine finds herself on the lam in Morocco wearing a handsome djellabas.

Yigal Azrouel

Djellabas-inspired YSL cape circa 1970-something

One of the reason Saoirse Ronan is so spellbinding to watch in Hanna is they’ve bleached her eyebrows. I love the look of bleached eyebrows so much. I feel very compelled to do it, but what if I look freakish in a bad way? I can’t help but remember being on tour last year and wanting to shave half my head a la Alice Dellal –

She’s a model, ya’ll

– but didn’t, and I’m so glad because this year on tour I saw a million girls in the awkward phase of growing half their head back in. But, eyebrows! Do you need to be a blonde to bleach them out?


Not at all. BTWs, this is Ranya Mordanova, your new favorite model.

Cate Blanchett plays the evil villainess with a Southern accent and forest-green Prada shoes that I tried desperately to find for you but they are just nowhere – maybe Miuccia made them special for the film the way Giorgio Armani designed the sleek gray and green power suits Cate wears to burn documents and shoot people.

That coat is cashmere, Mary.

Also – doesn’t Cate Blanchett remind you of Justin Vivian Bond? Her new CD, Dendrophile, just came in my mail and I can’t wait to hear it!

Anyway, back to Hanna – no one is left unstyled in this film, including the killers-for-hire, lead by the man in the lemon-yellow track suit who is suspiciously light in his loafers and assisted by a couple of homoerotic skinheads. I’m sorry – I can’t see a skinhead without thinking GAY.

GAY. Whoa, I didn’t know that picture moved! Trippy.

Anyway, the lead killer shows up in an array of differently-colored track suits, which lead me to designer Christopher Shannon, who makes cool ones for cool dudes.

Men in Ruffles

British actress Olivia Williams plays the free-spirited hippie mom tugging her family around Morocco in a van. Hippie moms are so beautiful!

Shit – where did I leave my kids?

Even Hanna’s imprisoned-by-the-government jail costume is sort of cool. Maybe because orange is so excellent right now.

Marc Jacobs

Elie Saab


After this movie, The Hunger Games, and hours of looking at pictures of girls with bow and arrows I am dying to learn to shoot one! If you are too, check out the great blog Horsefeathers to make one, or, if you live in the Bay Area, let a bunch of old guys in camo teach you to shoot one in Golden Gate park, for free! I’m totally going to do it!

Also – if you’ve made it this far you probably dig this blog okay. Cast a vote for Ironing Board Collective at the SF Weekly’s Best of the Bay Poll! You don’t even have to live in San Francisco, it’s totally legal! Thanks!

And PS – the costumes for Hanna (with the exception of Cate’s Armani) were designed by Lucie Bates.


About Michelle Tea

I chanted "I am a fashion magnet" in the shower and subsequently found a Gianni Versace - era Versace skirt at Buffalo Exchange for $17. Once I got a beyond-my-means Fendi purse for free and sat staring at it, crying. Also cried at Olivier Theyskens' last show for Nina Ricci in Paris. Other things that make me cry: a good lip synch; my emotions. I have stolen two Jeremy Scott swag items from two Jeremy Scott events I was not quite invited to. Sometimes I want to age into Patti Smith, sometimes Baby Jane Hudson. I frequently dream I am in a magic thrift store where I can have whatever I want. I regret not buying the Alexander Wang purse when it was half price at Barney's. Like a delusional guy at a strip club, I feel special when the people who work at Barney's remember me. Having a Leo rising gives me big hair and a need for attention. My favorite designers right now are Alexander Wang, Philip Lim, Proenza Schouler, Vivienne Westwood, Viktor Rolf, Rick Owens, Rodarte, Helmut Lang and Surface to Air. I was once shamed by an employee of a high-end department store for pronouncing 'Rodarte' incorrectly.


  1. michaelvonbraithwaite

    Welcome to my Autumn look! THANK YOU

  2. Sam

    Yes! There’s an archery range right by my house out here in GG Park. Oh yeah, you know that. Let’s bleach your eyebrows, dress you up, and then go to the range for a photoshoot. Also, wasn’t Geena Davis an archery champ? Maybe she went to the Olympics? Also, I’ve been obsessively watching ANTM.
    Love, Sam

  3. Sloane

    oh my god, what about princess mononoke? ultimate wolf girl.

  4. I love this. Also the way you stitched it all together.

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