If Sarah Lund's Nordic knit sweater in The Killing was a signifier of a certain gentleness and, more particularly, a character who would never stoop so low as to use her sexuality in a clichéd, woman-hell-bent-on-surviving-in-a-man's-world kind of a way, the wardrobe of Laure Berthaud, the lead in Spiral, demonstrates no such politically-correct concerns.
The character in the clothes, played by Caroline Proust (and, yes, that is the mother of all surnames), is a woman more than happy to make the most of any physical assets. And she has many. And so, Lund's by-now folkloric jumper is in this case replaced by layered skinny vests of a type best worn without underwear and only by women who know their bodies don't need it. Lund (played by the estimable Sofie Grobal) wears blue jeans – straight, but not skinny; faded, but not distressed – that are studiously uninteresting; Berthaud likes black, boot-cut Levi's which, given the Gallic snakehips that go into them, look nothing short of amazing. If one woman has the ability to drag black, boot-cut Levi's kicking and screaming back into fashion then, surely, it is she. Finally, there's her square-cut leather jacket to consider, not to mention the masculine swagger...
Laure Berthaud gives Dirty Harry a run for his money but – quite obviously – she is more beautiful by far. And, debatably, more dirty to boot.
"You smell of sex," said Pierre Clement, her tormented sidekick (think a Parisian Bad Lieutenant and you won't go too far wrong).
Berthaud shrugs it off in a quintessentially Gallic way; a way that suggests: "But of course!"
More generally Spiral only serves to emphasise the difference between the French attitude to dress and the rest of the planet's. A corrupt civil servant's wife, for example, is hauled over the coals because her wardrobe is improbably expensive.
"Your suit, it's Chanel, no?" says her interrogator, suggesting that it won't be long before her elevated dress sense will be used as evidence against her in court. "And your shoes? They're not cheap, either."
They're Prada. Even the poor woman's watch is called into question by this fiftysomething fashion guru (male). "Take off your watch," he concludes. "Chaumet... I see."