here’s something about the Seventies. At least, there most certainly is when it comes to fashion. Even now, the decade continues to inspire the wardrobes of celebrities and mood boards of luxury fashion houses. Chloé, Miu Miu and Gucci are just some of the labels known for taking their cues from the period.
But beyond the flared trousers and halter-neck frocks, which are perhaps most synonymous with the decade, there are countless other trends that have made notable comebacks on the catwalks in recent years. Like wrap dresses, bell-sleeved tops, and belted jumpsuits. And almost all of them feature in The Serpent, BBC One’s eight-part true crime drama about how the conman and murderer Charles Sobhraj was brought to justice.
The majority of the programme is set in Bangkok, Thailand, but there are also scenes in Paris, Nepal, and India, all of which provide quite the visual feast, sartorially speaking. Each of the characters’ has a distinct style, depending on their social class and cultural background. There are the hippie travellers, (Sobhraj’s target victims), who swan around our screens looking dazed and confused in tie-dye and fisherman pants; the embassy officials who fix up and look sharp in button-down shirts and blazers, and then there’s Jenna Coleman.
The British actor plays Marie-Andrée Leclerc, Sobhraj’s girlfriend and sort-of accomplice, a role that requires her to transform into the more confident alter-ego created by Sobhraj: Monique. Coleman straddles the two contrasting identities with élan, sashaying between the insouciant Monique, who is impervious to the horror of Sobjraj’s crimes, and Marie-Andrée, who is (quite rightly) terrified by them.
Naturally, the two conflicting states have a huge impact on Coleman’s wardrobe throughout the series. While Marie-Andrée swaddles herself in loose-fitting kaftans and trousers, Monique strides around in tight-fitting jumpsuits and vivid plisse gowns. And while it is the former whose character viewers will identify with more, it is the latter whose costumes they’ll crave.
Here are some of our favourite looks that Jenna Coleman wears in The Serpent.
This is a classic look for Monique. Sharp and well-fitted tailoring in a brash shade, check. Printed silk collared shirt that looks like it might have cost thousands of pounds, check. Oversized yellow-tinted sunglasses straight out of Gucci’s latest campaign, check.
“The shades were pretty amazing,” Coleman told Radio Times in a recent interview. “We had such a selection – I should have borrowed some from the set.”
This is a look that can easily be replicated today. For bold and bright tailoring, look no further than London-based label Racil, which takes its inspiration from classic menswear tuxedos to create statement suits for women. Or, for a more bespoke service, try The Deck, the first shopfront on Savile Rowe offering exclusively female tailoring.
As for Coleman’s sunglasses, there are standout yellow-tinted shades everywhere from Polaroid to Oliver Peoples. And, obviously, there are many options at Gucci.
Monique has form when it comes to poolside glamour. Here, we see her in a loose, flowing halter-neck kaftan. But in order to put this kaftan ahead of those worn by the travellers Sobhraj intends to murder, the kaftan has some distinctive features, such as a plunging neckline and an open back.
It is also in a vivid colour, a deep fuchsia, but is minimal when it comes to prints, featuring only a singular and subtle white pattern as opposed to multiple ones.
Once again, though, it’s the sunglasses that complete this bohemian 1970s look.
The beach is an equally important stage for the formidable Monique when it comes to packing a fashion punch. In this scene, she walks along the sand alongside Sobhraj in a khaki bikini and a sheer white cover-up that is covered in intricate embelishment.
Crucially, the cover-up features a similarly low neckline, complementing Monique’s blasé attitude. The sunglasses have changed, too. In this scene, Coleman trades her favoured yellow-tinted shades for another oversized black pair. They might not be quite as retro, but these sunglasses elevate Monique’s beach look and give it a heady dose of glamour.
Of course, Monique doesn’t walk around her home in a pair of flannel PJs or a terry cloth robe. Instead, she glides with grace in this peachy pink silk robe that features a subtle darker pink pattern and billowing sleeves.
It might just be a throw-on garment for her, but that fact alone should be indicative of Monique’s status and, well, her penchant for opulence.