Fashion forward killer: queering costuming in Killing Eve (video presentation).

Sarah Gilligan, Jacky Collins

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Costuming within the BBC television drama series Killing Eve (2018- ) is simultaneously beautiful, flamboyant and provocative. Garments function as a dramatic, self-indulgent dressing up box which offers the potential of costuming to facilitate the construction of a multiplicity of ever shifting spectacular identities.

Villanelle’s costuming in Killing Eve is a queer character of its own that draws attention to itself through theatricality, exaggeration and humour. With close reference to key costumes from the first three seasons of Killing Eve, we will firstly focus on a comparative analysis of how its butch-femme aesthetic intersects with and diverges from iconic queer appropriations of stereotypically masculine attire within popular visual culture. We will then focus on how pockets, together with fabric and cut offer a visual narrative of sexual symbolism centred on gendered power, violence and passion.

Villanelle’s eclectic, incongruous and playful costuming is we will argue, not as ground-breaking as it first appears, and reduces her to a series of surface appearances and queer citations. Such an interplay with costume and fashion both appropriates lesbian / dyke camp (Clemens 2018; Nielsen 2016; Geczy and Karaminas; Vanska 2007) and simultaneously renders Villanelle’s sexuality ‘safe’ as her appearances are revealed to be a vulnerable façade.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2020
EventCritical Costume 2020 - Online (conference was originally to take place in Oslo, Norway. Moved online due to COVID).
Duration: 21 Aug 202023 Aug 2020


ConferenceCritical Costume 2020
Internet address


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