There is an unwritten rule that assassins and spies have an endless clothing allowance to aid their abilities to assimilate in any given circumstance. It's also common in the world of subterfuge — or at least the version we see on TV or in films — that a sartorial skillset is a valuable asset. Jodie Comer as the deadly Villanelle in BBC America’s Killing Eve has ticked both of these boxes from the very first episode and this character puts her best fashion foot forward in any scenario.
Creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge has long since departed, and the showrunner has changed with every season, but one constant throughout has been Villanelle’s playful attitude toward her work and leisure attire. Through multiple stabbings (including her own), the hired killer has never lost her penchant for expensive designer threads, with her Parisian base helping fuel her high-end shopping passion. Three different costume designers have breathed life into Villanelle’s closet and turned the series into a living editorial featuring the likes of Gucci, Alexander McQueen, and Isabel Marant. After an extended game of cat and mouse, Eve (Sandra Oh) and Villanelle have come to an understanding of sorts, and the fourth and final season is set to lean heavily into symbolic imagery. On the eve (excuse the pun) of the critically acclaimed hit’s return, here are Villanelle's definitive fashion moments from the show's first three seasons.
From the very first episode, Villanelle’s ability to blend into any setting is made clear when she grabs a baby blue Burberry frock from the nearest closet and makes it sing at a wedding reception, but the outfit she wears while breaking into the beautiful villa is a bit more reflective of her fashion personality. It isn’t exactly incognito, but it does show her flair for casual fashion with an edge. The custom-made Celine pussy-bow blouse, cut-off denim shorts, and Doc Marten boots combine hard and soft visuals, which serve to highlight Villanelle’s contradictions early on.
Villanelle wearing a voluminous Molly Goddard bubblegum pink tiered tulle frock paired with Balenciaga boots tells us everything we need to know about her love of fashion and disdain for the mandatory therapy session. Arguably the most revered of Villanelle's fashion choices among fans, costume designer Phoebe De Gaye got tongues wagging from the get-go. A callback in the Season 2 saw Villanelle slaying an influencer type with her words after she requested a photo of her candy color outfit ("No, of course not. Don't be pathetic. Get a real life!"). Thankfully it was just a nod rather than trying to recreate this singular costume.
Clothing becomes a calling card of sorts in the early days of this shared obsession between the two women. Their paths cross when Eve travels to Berlin to investigate Villanelle’s crimes, and the assassin slyly makes off with Eve’s suitcase. Her assessment of the contents is withering, and no doubt she wants to sprinkle some makeover magic on the woman trailing her — for what it’s worth, Eve mentions she hates her own clothes. A green scarf with a zebra print is how Eve’s BFF Bill (David Haig) meets his untimely (and grisly) end when he recognizes Villanelle wearing the accessory he gifted to his friend. The graphic print Dries Van Noten power suit isn’t exactly Berlin nightclub material but Villanelle isn't one to follow the rules.
Villanelle’s brief stay in a Russian prison separates the assassin from her enviable wardrobe, but this shaggy jacket, black skinny jeans, and another fantastic pair of ankle boots tap into a ‘90s aesthetic that remains popular. Even rustic Villanelle is on-trend.
Rather than a high-fashion splash, Season 2 costume designer Charlotte Mitchell makes a bold Roy Lichtenstein leaning statement with a custom set of pajamas. The Pop Art theme isn’t a case of Villanelle trying to blend in at a sleepover but a necessity when she flees her hospital bed. Recovering from a stab wound inflicted by Eve introduces her to young Gabriel (Pierre Atri) who is the source of this colorful attire, and another victim on the assassin’s long list. It is perhaps the most shocking murder Villanelle commits, and the whimsical bedwear doesn’t reduce the horror of this moment — even if she sees it as an act of mercy. This is not the kind of loungewear she would choose herself, but no doubt Killing Eve fans would snap up a pair. In fact, the original set worn by Comer was sold for nearly $13,000 at auction in 2020.
Never let it be said that Villanelle doesn’t embrace theatrics or take in her surroundings. In Amsterdam, she sees the sights accompanied by Konstantin (Kim Bodnia) and kicks up a stink in the gallery before a gruesome painting by Jan de Baen catches her eye. Villanelle adds a Red Light District twist to "The Corpses of the De Witt Brothers" switching out her Vogue-ready Holland attire (which includes a Alexander McQueen blazer and Rosie Assoulin satin blouse) for a kinky pig mask and school girl hybrid. "Looks like bacon," is Villanelle’s assessment of the 17th-century artwork that influences her latest murder tableau, which is mistaken for an elaborate performance by onlookers.
It's no great surprise that Villanelle would go all out with her outfit when MI6 puts out a hit on Eve and hires Villanelle to do the deed. Eve is in on the plan, and this is the one way to get her attention, but this face-to-face is tense on account of the previous stabbing. "Nice outfit" quips Eve about the vintage Alexander McQueen sheer gown and dramatic lace polka dot veil that taps into a theme. "I’m about to be in mourning," she explains about her choice of widow-ready glamour. In the woodland location, the high-neck silhouette adds an element of a fairy tale villain that wouldn’t be a stretch for the international assassin.
Adapting to one's surroundings is vital when working in this murky world and Villanelle relishes playing dress-up. She is also incredibly versatile and goes from the ultra-feminine widow attire to looking like a Chariots of Fire extra in a heartbeat. A brief detour to Oxford to pour fire onto Eve’s marriage sees her embrace the preppy sweater slung over the shoulders aesthetic for maximum effect.
There’s a lot of back-and-forth in the Rome-set Season 2 finale with both Eve and Villanelle saving the other from danger. The red Lanvin ensemble is part of Villanelle’s cover story to ensnare tech villain Aaron Peel (Henry Lloyd-Hughes), and the black Gucci belt breaks up the co-ord set. In the hotel, she almost matches the ax being wielded against her and this costume looks even better after she ditches the pink-tinted wig. The final showdown among the ruins gives the Italian tourist board a boost and Villanelle dishes out sweet revenge in this femme fatale ready get-up.
Switching Paris for Barcelona in season three doesn’t diminish Villanelle’s fondness for expensive clothes. A striking floral Vampire’s Wife frock that has since been dubbed the "Villanelle Dress" (and is still available to purchase) immediately pulls focus. Even her hair gets the flower memo and if you didn’t know she was a hitwoman you'dalmost certainly think she worked in the fashion industry. It is in stark contrast to Eve’s kitchen worker uniform and her mentor Dasha’s (Harriet Walter) Eurotrash garb.
Golf is renowned for eye-catching argyle, but this rich green feathered plaid aviator jacket by Charlotte Knowles and high-waisted Gucci pants is a big swing that taps into the "Beautiful Monster" of the episode title. Season three costume designer Sam Perry (who returns for season four) leans into the outlandish for the Aberdeen setting as Villanelle plays the novice on the golf course as part of the ruse — her Scottish accent is also pitch-perfect. In a surprise move, she hits Dasha with the club instead of the intended target, and her rebellion against those who made her kicks up a notch. Maybe its time the traditional green jacket awarded to the winner of the Masters got a feathered makeover.
One thread running throughout all three seasons is the reliability of a patterned power suit. A tailored menswear influence doesn’t have to be boring or subtle, and this marble geometric Halpern number is the show's boldest yet. Villanelle takes to the dance floor with Eve — whose black suit and turtleneck complements the chaotic print — but rather than repeat what she did in Berlin to Bill, the pair join the waltzing couples. Eve utters the episode title, to which Villanelle responds "I have no idea." The peace is short-lived, but the suit ends up being handy in a fight to the death against fellow assassin Rhian (Alexandra Roach).
Villanelle wants out of the killing biz and the season three finale sets this into motion before culminating in a farewell of sorts on London Bridge. Villanelle stands out in a canary yellow oversized Loewe coat and Ann Demeulemeester biker boots for the second half of the final. Everyone else is in muted tones, but Villanelle is rethinking her profession not her love of fashion. This outerwear looks like the contemporary cousin of Anya Taylor-Joy’s eye-popping Emma. attire, which as Eve discovers in the finale moments is impossible to look away from.
Killing Eve returns to BBC America Sunday February 26th at 8:00 PM ET. Following the premiere, episodes will stream a week early on AMC+.
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Emma Fraser has wanted to write about TV since she first watched My So-Called Life in the mid-90s, finally getting her wish over a decade later. Follow her on Twitter at @frazbelina.