Since its premiere, Killing Eve has taken the world by storm, collecting accolades at the Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild, and the BAFTAs. Now in production of its third season, the psychological thriller continues to revolutionize the genre through its writing, acting, and wardrobe. Main characters Eve Polastri, played by Sandra Oh, and Villanelle, played by Jodie Comer, play an ever-evolving game of cat and mouse – fueled by an obsession for their crafts and each other. Despite the fact they share an intense dedication to their work (often at the expense of their loved ones), they seem to differ most drastically in their capability for emotion and aptitude for fashion.
Eve, lacking any sort of fashion sense, has a seemingly normal life with a loving husband. Villanelle contrasts Eve in her cut-throat lifestyle (literally) and impeccable style. Her flair for killing mirrors her flair for fashion. Villanelle shifts from an edgy badass with a vendetta to kill, to an elegant, seemingly innocent individual with the change of her clothes; whereas Eve struggles to embrace her femininity because all of her energy is dedicated to her work. Despite the contrasting styles, their notable looks play into the show as a whole, driving plot and highlighting their personalities. To look at how vital fashion is for this show, I am breaking down some of the most quintessential outfits and how they have added to an already exhilarating tale.
The Pink Tulle Dress
This piece alone is to die for, however, with context, it reminds audiences that Villanelle is still a psychopath – be that a psychopath with amazing taste. Her cunning yet dysfunctional personality makes it easy for audiences to temporarily forget about the fact that she is a ruthless assassin. Worn to a psychologist who assesses her on her ability to kill, this couture dress reminds viewers that she is far from an innocent girl who wears pink frilly dresses. Her manipulative personality makes her an expert killer, but her ability to manipulate people’s perceptions of her through her outfits makes her delightfully different than your stereotypical assassin.
Pajamas Meant for a Child
This look is without a doubt a diversion from her traditionally exclusive couture wardrobe. Villanelle’s near-death experience briefly influences her style and leads to, predictably, more deaths. Needing to escape an organization trying to kill her, and desperately wanting to return to Eve, Villanelle resorts to extreme measures both in action and fashion. Her ill-fitting children’s pajamas emphasize her intense devotion to Eve, seeing as she compromises her usually chic appearance for the chance to escape to London and see Eve once more. Additionally, this outfit represents her lack of emotion, specifically remorse, as they once belonged to a young, orphaned child she killed during her short stay at the hospital. The question of Villanelle’s capability to be good is debatable throughout the entire series, but when her mental state seems to spiral at an exponential rate, so does her fashion. This look certainly symbolizes her growing detachment from reality.
More Than a Black & White Dress
Significant in more ways than one, this dress not only allows Eve to embrace her femininity but sets up one of the most climactic points in the show: Eve and Villanelle’s first formal meeting. When Eve tries on this stunning dress both the audience and Eve are in awe of her hidden figure and beauty, which is revealed thanks to the fashionista assassin who gifted this killer dress. Fortunately, Eve is joined by Villanelle moments later to thank her personally… well not exactly. Never having met before, Villanelle manages to pick out a perfectly fitting, and flattering dress for Eve. Considering I can barely pick out a dress for myself, this is beyond impressive. It also highlights the intense infatuation Villanelle has towards Eve. They seem to have formed a unique relationship that ultimately leads to an unusual meeting and this dress only reinforces their peculiar connection. Later in the season, Villanelle uses this dress to send a gruesome message to Eve; reiterating both their fervent obsession with each other and the lack of remorse Villanelle has.
Making statements through fashion is one way Killing Eve separates itself from others in its genre, however, this isn’t a new idea. The two art forms have been intertwined since the creation of cinema. The beauty of fashion is that it is infinitely customizable, which allows it to match the unique decades, personalities, and feelings in movies, characters, and scenes. Wardrobes as professionally dull as Eve’s and as stunningly chic as Villanelle’s inspire trends by captivating audiences worldwide with skilled writing and brilliant styling. Killing Eve is only the most recent addition to the long list of films and shows that have revolutionized their industries when combining fashion and film.
Cover Photo: Vanity Fair