SARAH GILLIGAN & JACKY COLLINS
Fashion forward killer: queering costuming in Killing Eve.
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.
Dr. Sarah Gilligan is a Senior Lecturer in Fashion Communication in the School of Design at Northumbria University (UK). Previously, she was the Programme Leader for FdA Design for the Creative Industries and taught on a range of FE programmes at Hartlepool College. Sarah is the co-founder of the Fashion, Costume and Visual Cultures (FCVC) Network and co-organised the three-day international conferences FCVC2018 in Zagreb and FCVC2019 in Roubaix. She is a member of the Critical Costume Steering Group and on the editorial team of Film, Fashion and Consumption journal. Sarah most recently published her open-access article ‘Suits and subcultures: Costuming and masculinities in the films of Pedro Almodóvar’ (co-written with Dr. Jacky Collins) in Film, Fashion & Consumption (8:2). She is currently guest-editing special issues of Intellect journals, collaborating on interdisciplinary projects on costuming and identities on and beyond the screen, and developing her research project on Tilda Swinton: Film, Fashion and Performance.
Dr. Jacky Collins is an independent scholar and the Festival Director for Newcastle Noir. In her role as ‘Dr Noir’ she is regularly invited to interview a range of internationally acclaimed and emerging authors at crime fiction events across the UK, Iceland, in New Zealand and online. Prior to embarking upon her current portfolio of creative, publishing and academic projects, Jacky was a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Arts at Northumbria University (UK). During her 25 years of service at Northumbria (between 1995 and 2020), she taught Spanish, and modules on film, TV and literary crime fictions. Her research interests and publications span international crime fictions, queer fictions, and Spanish culture. Jacky is currently collaborating with Dr. Sarah Gilligan on journal articles and further conference papers exploring the intersections of gender, sexuality and costuming in visual culture, including work on ageing Spanish male stars, and further work on Killing Eve.
Killing Eve (2018-)
Production company: Sid Gentle Films for BBC and BBC America.
Costume designers: Phoebe De Gaye (2018), Charlotte Mitchell (2019), Sam Perry (2020).