Is 'Killing Eve' The Greatest Fashion Show On TV?
‘Killing Eve’ returns and Villanelle’s outfits still pack a punch, writes Caroline Leaper
Television shows are rarely a place to seek outfit inspiration, or to discover fresh-off-the-catwalk fashion trends and hot new designer names.
Yet since she first arrived on our screens in September 2018, the Killing Eve character Villanelle, played by Jodie Comer, has been raising the bar — and the BBC’s wardrobe budget — with her impressive roster of high-end outfits by designer labels from Chloé to Christian Lacroix.
The fictional female assassin (originally adapted by Fleabag writer Phoebe Waller-Bridge from Luke Jennings’ Codename Villanelle novels) does not wear the cliched catsuits and camouflage that you might expect, but a brocade Dries Van Noten in series one, and a fuchsia Alexander McQueen jacket in series two.
The best thing is that all of the outfits are the real McCoy, rather than replicas cobbled together by a costume department.
“In the script, it said that she spends all her money on designer clothes, but I didn’t expect that they would be real versions,” Comer rightfully grinned when I interviewed her for The Telegraph’s Stella magazine before the series began.
Vogue declared it “the most fashionable show on TV”.
Killing Eve series three launches in New Zealand on April 13 and, as with each of the previous two seasons, a new costume designer was employed to keep the fashion fresh. Following the lead of Phoebe de Gaye in series one and Charlotte Mitchell in series two, Sam Perry takes the reins.
Perry’s take on Villanelle is just as playful, from manic clown to menacing gardener. Villanelle has an outre outfit to suit each one of these wildly different occasions; her gardening gear comprises a 2020 spring-summer must-have accessory, the bucket hat; a meeting with her handler calls for a delicately embellished organza dress by London designer Simone Rocha.
The headline look of the first series — that bubblegum pink Molly Goddard tulle dress — came to define Villanelle as a fashion character, inspiring countless media theses and fancy dress copycats, but also adding a new layer to Goddard’s business.
The young British designer, who founded her brand in 2014, saw her work become globally recognised and meme-worthy.
The new series has a killer dress in it too. This time it’s a floral number by cult British label The Vampire’s Wife, founded by Susie Cave (wife of singer Nick Cave) in 2014 and now so popular the Duchess of Cambridge wore an emerald version on her recent trip to Ireland. For Cave, it was exciting to see her work in this new setting.
“It was a complete surprise, I only knew very recently,” she explains. As with the Goddard dress, it was purchased normally, not borrowed or custom-made for the show.
“We didn’t collaborate, we didn’t see it coming at all. We love Killing Eve — it’s a thrill to see TV’s most intoxicating female assassin dressed in The Vampire’s Wife.”
It helps that, in real life, Comer is a hugely talented actress (she scooped her first Emmy award earlier this year) and that she’s so striking.
Because of the anti-heroic, amoral nature of her character — fashion loves a baddy — she’s also become a fashion world muse. When the first series began, Comer hired Elizabeth Saltzman, the Hollywood stylist.
Two years on, she scored her first Vogue cover this April and brands now vie to dress her off-screen as much as they do Villanelle.
Designers often talk of dressing their “fantasy woman” and, well, here she is. Villanelle is irreverent and fabled, she speaks many languages, she is a fighter in all senses of the word.
In short, she’s completely unlike many other female characters on TV.
• Killing Eve season three premiers on April 13 on TVNZ 2 at 5pm
— Telegraph Media Group