The Serpent: Shop The 70s Style

Channel Monique’s look today.

The BBC’s eight-part true-crime drama The Serpent has had us all seriously enthralled in lockdown. The show follows Charles Sobhraj, (played by Tahar Rahim) who through a web of fraud and disguise, lured and murdered Western tourists who were travelling Southeast Asia in the 1970s. The series is set upon the rich backdrop of Bangkok, Paris, and Nepal—the entire aesthetic of the show seriously stylised, despite its heavy subject matter.

There were many takeaways to note from the series, but mostly we can’t stop thinking about the French serial killer’s girlfriend and accomplice Marie-Andrée Leclerc, played sublimely by Jenna Coleman. Sobhraj, who was nicknamed the serpent due to his expert deception and evasion, gave Marie the new name of Monique—thereby creating an alter-ego fit for their crimes. Nowhere was this shown more so than in their outward appearance. Chatting clothes may seem flippant in this tale of tragedy, yet the couple’s wardrobes were an integral part of their ruse—they enticed their victims by trapping them within their glamorous façade. Sobhraj posed as a gem dealer and photographer and ‘Monique’ as a model.

Images from the time show the real Marie-Andrée was never far from her adored fashion magazines Vogue and Paris Match. When bringing Monique to life, costume designer Rachel Walsh explained that Marie created a false character to fit into her new life, replicating the glamourous look of the women she saw the glossy pages of her magazines. Walsh replicated Leclerc’s IRL look by channelling fashion icons Jane Birkin, Bianca Jagger Françoise Hardy and Catherine Deneuve—all of which Marie will have read about in her beloved style mags. Monique and Charles’s style was not the only important costume takeaway. The show nails the outfits of the surrounding characters just as well. A prime example is Nadine Gires in her crochet bikini, or Angela Knippenberg’s stunning square neck gown she wears to an embassy party. Walsh had replica items made from images of the real characters, and found original 70s gems for the cast on eBay. Whilst not to undermine the serious topics the show covers, if watching has sparked your interest in fashion from decades gone by, working a 70s style look into your wardrobe will put you in good stead for the upcoming S/S 21 season. On the catwalks at Chloé and Balenciaga 70s-inspired flared denim ruled, and at Miu Miu, Stine Goya and Gucci, clothes all nodded to the era of Madame Monique.

The show’s leading lady provides us with many an iconic moment throughout the series. Even when dressed down, her silk robes and flowing cover ups scored serious fashion points. Some pieces in our shopping edit will work for right now, whereas some could be stored for your next sunny getaway. We’ll be recreating Monique’s look with oversized collars on shirts and dresses, halter neck-details and chain-print shirts for right now, and working her white kaftan look next time we’re at the beach. For daytime, channel the look of the 1970s with our picks of flared denim, plaited belts, gold hoops and pussy-bow blouses. An easy way to incorporate the era is with skinny scarves—wear in the hair or around the neck. We loved Marie’s green version, paired with an off the shoulder striped top. Monique’s sunglasses style alone is one to emulate—perfectly 70s with yellow-lens and tortoiseshell sunglasses. The era’s sartorial scene was synonymous with vivid colour and prints in bold psychedelics and geometric patterns. We’ve even included a piece in our edit from IT designer of the time Emilio Pucci, in case you wanted to invest in the real deal. We’ve done the hard work for you, scouring vintage boutiques and the hottest labels to bring you picks just like Monique’s. From new-in pieces to real vintage finds, these are the buys to transport you back to the 70s. One thing we wouldn’t recommend? The constant accompaniment of a cigarette in hand!