The Hidden Meanings Behind The Costumes In Chloe, BBC One’s New Psychological Thriller

Just as gripping as Killing Eve.

Erin Doherty as Becky

by Natalie Hammond |
Updated on

For those who haven't seen Chloe, it's a wince-as-you-watch thriller about a young woman called Becky who falls down a rabbit hole of her own making thanks to social media. So it's rather appropriate that the show's costume designer, Matthew Price, whose work you've probably seen in action on Catastrophe, Unforgotten and Behind Her Eyes, began with Instagram.

'We looked at influencers as the starting point,' he says, noting places like Babington House, the members club and hotel in Somerset, and Soho Farmhouse, the famously 'grammable getaway in Chipping Norton, as particularly fruitful for research.

Erin Doherty as Chloe
Becky wearing the 'comfort blanket' varsity jacket ©Chloe

Becky - a temp worker living with her mum who develops (and swiftly acts upon) an obsession with Chloe, who passes away - is played with shape-shifting brilliance by Erin Doherty, last seen on the small screen as Princess Anne. She's a character who, rather like Killing Eve's Villanelle, is prone to trying on different identities, making the wardrobing process a pivotal part of the show's success. 'Becky’s journey is fuelled with guilt, obsession and personal acceptance,' says Price. 'She's this chameleon figure that quickly crosses from Helena, who we meet at the start, to her main alter-ego Sasha. Finding the right balance to convey her personality was a fascinating process.'

In the first episode - as she begins to infiltrate the network of friends around Chloe, finding an in-road with her best friend Livia - Becky steals a colleague's exuberantly patterned coat and cons her way into a private drinks party. She's spontaneous - seizes opportunities as they present themselves; absorbing information about her environment - and that's reflected in her wardrobe.

Try as she might, her efforts aren't always successful says Price. 'She would take bolder prints and colours from Livia, and more of the teals, greens and soft elegance from Chloe. That's how she starts to piece it together, but she doesn't always get it 100% right. She's not as seamless with her outfits and, the further we go down the rabbit hole, cracks start to appear.'

Erin Doherty in Chloe
Becky wearing the yellow dress from Rejina Pyo x & Other Stories ©Chloe

Price takes an almost 'method' approach to his costumes, thinking carefully about colours and creating a back history for certain garments. In one scene in the opening episode, Becky stands outside the funeral, furtively watching in a red varsity jacket, a vintage find that he'd had for a couple of years before this project came along. 'As soon as we fitted it on Erin, her posture changed and she started walking slightly more stooped,' he remembers. 'We knew in that moment that we had found one of the signature 'Becky' jackets.'

Price says that its red was supposed to represent blood. 'It's Becky’s comfort blanket; she’s worn it since she was a teenager.' When she first meets Livia, meanwhile, she wears a marigold-coloured dress from Rejina Pyo x & Other Stories. 'In the art gallery scene, she has one opportunity to leave a strong memory on Livia. The yellow acts as a punch of colour, but it's the colour of positivity and deception. [I] like the contrast on that meaning,' he says.

Erin Doherty and Pippa Bennett-Warner
Becky and Livia ©Chloe

When Becky engineers a second meeting with Livia, this time at a yoga class at a plush hotel spa, we see her tucking the tag back into her sports bra; another glimpse into the hectic nature of her deception. 'She’s working at such a fast pace and on a limited budget,' explains Price. 'Essentially, [she] wants to have the opportunity to return them so prefers to leave the labels on.'

If all this talk hasn't sent you straight to BBC iPlayer - where you can now stream the whole box set - we don't know what will.


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