Stylishly Insane: Suicide Squad’s Harley Quinn
She started as a jester by now she's no joke.
Harley Quinn is best known as the former girlfriend of the Joker, but for anyone who’s seen a glimpse of the trailer showing her smashing windows all for the sake of a handbag, you’ll agree there’s more to this chick than meets the eye. A deranged psychiatrist who thought she could fix his maniacal mind, Harley fell crazy in love instead, and insanity has ensued ever since. Now, with the character’s major motion picture debut just days away — played by budding actress Margot Robbie — it marks a major moment in pop culture for women across the globe. The world is going to get a rare glimpse of this complexly kooky comic book female.
Love makes us do crazy things, and her story reads like a dramatic script from a Lifetime original movie. Like many of the tortured souls seen in the world of superhero comics, the bubbly and psychotic Harley Quinn has too many mental issues and misdeeds to count. She’s the prototypical victim, enduring the most sadistic kinds of mind games from the man she loves the most, while always coming back for more. She has survived domestic abuse, murder attempts and even killed children using various weapons of choice including mallets, baseball bats, and exploding cupcakes. Yet all of her character traits and flaws perfectly compliment her chaotic sense of style.
Encountering the Joker was the worst thing to happen to the young and impressionable Dr. Harleen Quinzel. Before her descent into madness, she was a promising psychiatrist assigned to Arkham Asylum, Gotham's home for the criminally insane. But after meeting the Joker, she became obsessed with the crazed criminal's warped mind. Sensing opportunity, the Joker manipulated her, driving his therapist so mad that he was able to control her.
Harleen fell in love with the villain, broke him out of Arkham and devoted her life to making him happy by spreading his bloody brand of mayhem. She quickly became the Joker’s moll, slinking around in a sexy jester’s costume and white greasepaint to transform herself into the giggling gangstress Harley Quinn. Destroying her life and career to help the Joker may seem heartbreaking to some as their tumultuous, love-hate relationship unfolds, but Harley Quinn proves to be a formidable opponent in her own right.
She’s become something of a feminist icon who’s praised for her complexity, smarts and subversive sexuality, while her character allows for the personal freedom of expression only granted to those who refuse to take any rules from anybody. She can be funny, sad, sexy, heroic and inherently annoying — all at the same time — mirroring the current mood seen in fashion.
Her original black-and-red jester suit has been as fundamental to her character as her unhealthy obsession with the Joker, yet her evolution into the grungy punk-glam mash-up seen today speaks to the same designers who are tackling personal style with a maximalist approach. A quick review of the Spring and Fall ‘16 collections (cue Alex Wang, Gucci, et al) will prove that the references are all there. The messy smudged make-up, brightly dyed hair, varsity jacket, sporty heeled kicks and the outlandishly thick choker seen on Harley Quinn make her the poster girl for frivolous fashion, not to mention the status symbol for expressing (and dressing) however the hell you want.