A costume design review and the story behind Charlize Theron’s black leather shoulder bag.
Mavis Gary (Charlize Theron) is the arrogant beauty who visits her childhood home town where she has to face old wounds of an unanswered love to her ex-high school love Buddy Slade (Patrick Wilson).
On the surface she is the successful book author and good looking business woman from the big city who is easy going and likes to party.
Under the surface, she is a broken girl in the midlife-crisis with an alcohol problem who observes in the mirror how her beauty fades. Her tough and weak sides are subtly visualized in her fashion outfits like in her black oversized leather bag.
It’s a so-called Hobo model, a name derived from the term ‘Hobos’, the homeless vagabonds who work part-time and travel through America by jumping illegally on trains. This lifestyle of freedom started in the beginning of 1890 until it became really popular in the late 60s. A lot of famous US authors like Jack Kerouac, Jack London or George Orwell used to live and travel as Hobos as a catharsis before they wrote their most popular works.
Hence, the bag model visualizes perfectly her painful but purifying travel home where she finalizes in the end her Young Adult novel.
After an even closer look, I’ve found out that Mavis black leather hobo bag from luxury designer Jimmy Choo is covered with silver rivets and is called ‘Sky’.
The steel studded leather and the big size function like an armor or shield that Mavis uses unconsciously to protect her inner weakness from the ‘normal‘ people and sad reality she had to face. Therefore she wears the bag in situations when she is sober or feels awkward and insecure, like when she enters the low budget hotel and the pub alone as the only woman or visits the grocery- and bookstore in her casual sweatpants and hoodie outfit.
Therefore, the bag is a perfect symbol of her two sides: While the costly prize of $1.000 for the designer brand accessory visualize her former success, symbolizes the Hobo model her clarifying travel home, and the rivets signal that she needs protection for her inner weakness.
I don’t know if Jason Reitman and his costume designer David Robinson had all this in mind when choosing this specific bag but I think it’s a nice little detail and interesting assumption.