Fashion Forward Killer: Villanelle, Costume and Queer Style in Killing Eve.

Activity: Talk or presentationOral presentation


Costuming within the BBC television crime drama Killing Eve (2018 - ) is simultaneously beautiful, flamboyant, and provocative. Costume self-consciously functions to construct a queer, camp character that draws attention to itself through theatricality, exaggeration and humour.

At the end of season one of Killing Eve, assassin Villianelle appears to have a ‘Carrie moment’, as she sits adorned in frothy pink tulle Molly Goddard dress, paired with cut away Balenciaga boots. In Sex and the City (1998-2004), fashion functions as the ‘fifth character’ (Bruzzi and Church Gibson 2004: 115), and whilst both Carrie and Villanelle indulge in and use fashion as costume (see Warner 2014) to construct feminine identities; Villanelle queers her costume, weaponizing femininity as theatrical, disruptive force. Costuming in Killing Eve (by designers Phobe De Gaye and Charlotte Mitchell) becomes a dramatic, self-indulgent dressing up box which playfully draws attention to itself and the radical potential of garments to facilitate the construction of a multiplicity of ever shifting spectacular identities.

Drawing and building upon critical work on queer style and lesbian camp (including Nielsen 2016; Geczy & Karaminas 2013; Vanska 2007), through the close textual analysis of key looks from Killing Eve,we will argue that through the combination of androgyny, hyperfemme aesthetics and subversion, Villianelle’s couture costuming offers a sumptuous, seductive sartorial visual narrative dominated by queer camp, that is directly opposed to Eve’s drab, crumpled, utilitarian uniform of Uniqlo vests and M&S suits. Villanelle’s costuming is eclectic, incongruous and playful, offering a striking silhouette that draws attention from the material body onto costuming, and in turn highlights, mimics and parodies gendered identities.

(Abstract originally submitted to the EUPOP2020 conference which was postponed until 2022 due to COVID-19).
Period14 Jul 202216 Jul 2022
Event titleEuropean Popular Culture Association Conference. : EUPOP2022
Event typeConference
LocationKrakow, PolandShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational