For many, her lust-worthy designer wardrobe was as gripping as her murderous behaviour.
Now psychopathic assassin Villanelle — played by Jodie Comer, 26 — is back in the second series of BBC’s Killing Eve. And, as our pictures show, her wardrobe is as fascinating as ever.
Few, after all, could carry off looks by Balenciaga or Dries Van Noten as well as they commit such horrors as killing a statesman with a hair clip or poisoning a millionairess, all while being chased by MI6’s Eve Polastri (Sandra Oh) and Carolyn Martens (Fiona Shaw).
Eve stabbed Villanelle at the end of the first series, but as these pictures show, not even a battle for survival can knock style off her list of priorities.
Here, the show’s new costume designer Charlotte Mitchell, 43, gives ANTONIA HOYLE an exclusive insight into Villanelle’s most intriguing outfits in the new series — and what they reveal about her state of mind…
Our anti-heroine is in Oxford for scenes in which a ‘Brideshead Revisited look’ was required
Manning up brideshead-style
Our anti-heroine is in Oxford for scenes in which a ‘Brideshead Revisited look’ was required. With Villanelle the subversive sort, Mitchell took that to mean she should play one of the male characters in the classic Evelyn Waugh novel.
‘The show said that would be fantastic — Villanelle should look like she’s dressing up to be quintessentially English.
‘So we found a vintage shirt and tie, and put it with a pair of high-end trousers from Raey (the in-house brand of designer fashion retailer Matches).’
With Villanelle’s hair slicked back, a vintage cricket jumper draped over her shoulders completes the look.
The frocky horror show
Villanelle’s back in lurid bubblegum pink, as well as back on the sofa, after famously wearing that Molly Goddard-designed oversized extravaganza of a chiffon dress on the psychoanalyst’s couch in series one.
But this time her outfit is more camp cartoon than fashion fetish. She’s sporting a dirndl made from scratch, accessorised with a pig’s mask that Mitchell designed.
Unsurprisingly, in a costume like this, she’s about to kill. Mitchell’s brief was to make the outfit as cute as possible ‘as what she’s doing is quite grotesque’.
She adds: ‘The whole thing became a Japanese Manga cartoon. When something is so cute it can be terrifying, it’s disconcerting.’
Villanelle’s back in lurid bubblegum pink, as well as back on the sofa, after famously wearing that Molly Goddard-designed oversized extravaganza of a chiffon dress on the psychoanalyst’s couch in series one
A veiled threat
But why black? Is she off to a funeral? ‘I can’t say,’ laughs Mitchell
Getting ready to go out in a black floral kimono, Villanelle puts on a black headpiece created by Mitchell, who started out as a fashion buyer before working on films and TV shows such as One Day and Doctor Who.
‘In the script they wanted a veil that she pushes back off her face,’ she recalls. ‘I said it would be nice if we kept it simple, so it was minimal and floated off her face.’
But why black? Is she off to a funeral? ‘I can’t say,’ laughs Mitchell, who replaced Phoebe de Gaye as the costume designer for this series.
‘She could take it off with one hand, then you can get to the depths of the scene. It’s key not to distract from the storyline, but give something that keeps her personality there.’
Serene in McQueen
Lost in thought on holiday in Amsterdam
Lost in thought on holiday in Amsterdam with (spoiler alert) Konstantin, the minder Villanelle left for dead in series one after being ordered to kill him, the assassin is again dressed in her designer best.
When off duty from her murderous profession, ‘it’s important she wears luxury’, Mitchell says.
‘She’s like a magpie — she collects beautiful things. This is my favourite outfit. I think it looks fantastic in the setting. I wanted her to “pop out” on that bridge.’
Her McQueen fuchsia jacket is paired with floral trousers by Italian brand Etro.
Here, Villanelle cheekily treats her former handler as her father, which ‘really winds Konstantin up’, says Mitchell.
Pretty in pink
In Amsterdam, Villanelle’s ensemble reflects her playful mood, as she has seemingly reached some sort of detente with her nemesis, Eve — with whom she shares a mutual, obsessional attraction.
‘She’s writing love letters to Eve,’ reveals Mitchell. ‘She’s quite loved up. She’s on holiday being childish. I wanted to give her a demure, iconic Hollywood look.’
She teamed a vintage pink taffeta skirt with this blouse by U.S. designer Rosie Assoulin.
She teamed a vintage pink taffeta skirt with this blouse by U.S. designer Rosie Assoulin
‘I tied a knot in the front in the way they used to in the Fifties, which helped push the blouse back off the shoulders,’ says Mitchell.
Villanelle’s eclectic style meant the look ‘needed something else’, so Mitchell found supersize Eighties gold earrings by Christian Lacroix. She says: ‘They are bonkers, but being Villanelle — and Jodie — she pulls it off.’
The M&S assassin
Here Villanelle is working undercover as a security guard for a bank. She is ‘playing a character for a kill’, says Mitchell
Here Villanelle is working undercover as a security guard for a bank. She is ‘playing a character for a kill’, says Mitchell.
Paid handsomely by the mysterious ‘Twelve’ who order her killings, Villanelle can afford haute couture, but when on a job she must fit into her environment.
And so Mitchell found this ‘fantastic double-breasted jacket and slim fitted trousers from Marks and Spencer that suited Jodie perfectly’.
It won’t be the last suit she’ll be seen in —another is to come at the end of this series, Mitchell confides. It was inspired by Yves Saint Laurent’s Eighties style, with a ‘strong silhouette and big shoulder pads’.
‘I can’t tell you what happens, but it has to be an iconic Villanelle moment,’ Mitchell adds. ‘Simple, stripped back, quite masculine.’
A killer Topshop look
Geeky in an auburn wig, embroidered jacket and tortoiseshell glasses, this is Villanelle posing as a teacher, says Mitchell, who found the orange jacket in Anthropologie and sourced the vest from Topshop.
‘When she’s playing dress-up, she wears normal High Street clothes,’ Mitchell says. Well, not completely normal. ‘She might push the boundaries, hamming up her character, slightly taking the mickey out of a typical teacher look,’ she adds.
‘I’m trying to keep things real, but also playing it up. It’s a fine line without pushing it so far as to look ridiculous.’
Intriguingly, however, Villanelle isn’t dressed to kill here. ‘She’s about to do something else,’ Mitchell says. We can only wait in anticipation…
Geeky in an auburn wig, embroidered jacket and tortoiseshell glasses, this is Villanelle posing as a teacher, says Mitchell
As suave as 007
Sophisticated, inscrutable and almost demure in this purple blouse, the assassin has regained her confidence, cash and posh clothes
Sophisticated, inscrutable and almost demure in this purple blouse, the assassin has regained her confidence, cash and posh clothes.
‘By episode three she’s cool, strong and determined. I wanted to portray this,’ says Mitchell, who combined the Isabel Marant high-necked blouse with a velvet black horse motif jacket by Chloe.
‘She’s almost the closest you’ll get to the stereotypical assassin at this point. But it’s not a full, matching suit, it’s Villanelle’s eclectic take on it,’ Mitchell adds. She won’t discuss the clothes’ cost, but the jacket is believed to be £1,225 and the blouse £220.
Mitchell used more muted tones for scenes in London and involving MI6. ‘Overseas, Villanelle has this playful, bright wardrobe. When she’s back in the UK she might take on the MI6 colour palette.’
Which all suggests she could be hot on Eve’s trail…