The Story Behind Harley Quinn's Wild Caution Tape Costume In Birds Of Prey

Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn in Birds of Prey

When the Birds of Prey trailer dropped in October, fans were instantly intrigued by the film’s premise -- and Harley Quinn’s growing wardrobe. Though she’s known for a singular iconic look, the Suicide Squad spinoff shows that she’s expanding her sartorial horizons in new and exciting ways. And the film’s costume designer has already given some insight into Harley Quinn’s eye-catching new caution tape-fringed jacket.

For Birds of Prey (And The Fantabulous Emancipation of Harley Quinn), costume designer Erin Benach put careful thought into every item the film’s protagonist wore. That includes the jacket she can be seen wearing in the film’s trailer. And in an interview with Collider, Erin Benach explained how Harley Quinn’s story and personality influenced that costume piece in particular:

Behind her story is always something a little bit off from center and a little bit crazy, with the idea being that caution tape may be a place to stay away from, and maybe it’s a way to caution the world against what she might do. So, we kind of took the idea of that caution tape and tried to repurpose it into a costume. We always wanted to create something that felt like Harley made it herself, so she’s sort of a crafty person in the backroom and she can make stuff herself — you know the shorts that she’s painted and the jacket that she’s put together herself. That’s why we did it like that. It’s fun and a little bit crazy like her.

Harley Quinn’s appeal is much more than just her badass wardrobe. But as her iconic look has become a favorite for cosplayers and trick-or-treaters alike, it’s clear that in her case, the clothes not only maketh the woman, they help her make a statement. In an earlier interview, Margot Robbie told Collider that she and Erin Branach worked closely together to make sure they do Harley Quinn justice:

When we first spoke, a lot of her inspiration were films that feel like a heightened version of reality that can also exist in a world that isn’t too jarring, or you don’t disassociate yourself with immediately… So I guess it’s a combination of achieving a heightened reality that feels grounded and recognizable at the same time and also distinctly from a female perspective.

Birds of Prey will definitely embrace that perspective. And it has the daunting task of introducing a whole host of new characters to Suicide Squad fans -- Harley Quinn is the only holdover from that film. In her interview, Erin Branach discussed the challenge in designing costumes that will help viewers understand who characters like Huntress and Black Canary are. We’ll see how she helped bring all these characters to life when Birds of Prey hits theaters on February 7, 2020.

Katherine Webb