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Is The New Look is Based on a True Story

Apple TV+’s latest period drama, “The New Look,” transports viewers to occupied France. Is The New Look is Based on a True Story immersing them in the lives of iconic figures in haute couture. In the series, Christian Dior, portrayed by Ben Mendelsohn, and Coco Chanel, played by Juliette Binoche, navigate a world gripped by conflict during the Second World War.

Against the backdrop of wartime Paris, the show delves into the intricate stories behind these fashion titans, highlighting how their creations were not just expressions of style but also acts of survival amid chaos. As viewers delve into the glamour and complexities of Dior and Chanel’s lives, the series boldly confronts the nuances of their rivalry and the transformative power of fashion during turbulent times.

Is The New Look Based on a True Story

The 10-episode series draws inspiration from true events, blending fictionalized accounts with historical facts. Christian Dior, a renowned French fashion designer who passed away in 1957, remains an enduring icon, along with the designers he collaborated with during World War II. In the series, viewers witness Dior’s collaboration with Pierre Balmain under the mentorship of French couturier Lucien Lelong, illustrating their efforts to revive Parisian fashion during the war. Dior’s ascent in the fashion world began when he was discovered by Robert Piguet, who also trained Hubert de Givenchy. Initially designed for Piguet, Dior later joined Lelong’s fashion house after completing military service in 1942, alongside Balmain.

During the Nazi occupation, Dior, like other Paris-based designers, reluctantly designed dresses for the wives of Nazi officers and French collaborators, a portrayal depicted in the series. Despite his discomfort, such tasks were commonplace during the occupation. In 1946, Dior founded his eponymous fashion house, debuting his first collection in 1947, introducing the iconic ‘New Look’. This style celebrated opulence, femininity, and luxury in contrast to the militarized fashion prevalent during the war. Dior’s designs aimed to restore a sense of elegance and beauty to post-war fashion, as he envisioned clothing for “flower-like women” with rounded shoulders, full busts, and defined waists.

The Bar Suit, a highlight of Dior’s debut collection, symbolized the essence of ‘The New Look’, featuring a black skirt and beige suit jacket designed by Pierre Cardin, Dior’s head of tailoring. This ensemble sparked conversations and revolutionized French fashion, reaffirming Paris as the capital of the fashion world. Dior’s subsequent collections continued to empower women, each introducing new lines and evoking confidence through fashion. His legacy endures, shaping the trajectory of haute couture and inspiring generations of designers.

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What is the New Look About?

Christian Dior’s ‘New Look’ reshaped the landscape of fashion, introducing opulence and refinement characterized by full skirts, cinched waists, and vibrant patterns. The term ‘New Look’ was coined by Carmel Snow, then editor-in-chief of Harper’s Bazaar, who described Dior’s creations as revolutionary after witnessing his debut fashion show in Paris.

During a documentary on Paris’s 2017 Musée des Arts Décoratifs exhibition, Florence Müller, a professor in the history of fashion, emphasized the rarity of such a definitive break in fashion history. Dior’s collection represented a singular revolution in the industry, a phenomenon unparalleled in its impact and innovation.

Despite its acclaim, the New Look faced criticism for its extravagance and impracticality. Some of Dior’s evening dresses weighed up to 27kg, while the skirt of the iconic ‘bar suit’ alone comprised five meters of fabric. This extravagant style highlighted the tensions between post-war austerity and the allure of luxury, reflecting the complexities of the era.

Nevertheless, Dior’s success was undeniable, prompting Coco Chanel to emerge from retirement in 1954 to challenge his dominance in haute couture. The rivalry between Dior and Chanel epitomized the dynamic evolution of fashion during this transformative period, leaving an indelible mark on the industry’s history.

Catherine Dior: A Story of Resilience

In The New Look, Maisie Williams embodies Catherine Dior, a pivotal figure in the French Resistance during WWII. Joining F2 in 1941, she bravely gathered intelligence for the Allies from her brother Christian Dior’s Paris apartment. Catherine’s arrest by the Gestapo in 1944 led to imprisonment in Ravensbrück concentration camp until liberation by Soviet soldiers in 1945. Emaciated and unrecognizable upon her return, Catherine rebuilt her life, cultivating roses for her brother’s perfumes until her passing in 2008. Williams reflects on the challenging filming process, emphasizing the show’s aim to inspire hope amid wartime atrocities.

Williams emphasized the profound themes explored in portraying Catherine’s story, highlighting the juxtaposition of human cruelty with moments of magic, hope, and love. Through Catherine’s narrative, The New Look seeks to uplift audiences, offering a testament to the indomitable spirit of the human experience in the face of adversity.

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