‘The New Look’ explores dark origins of French fashion

‘The New Look’ explores dark origins of French fashion

PARIS: The fashion world makes for eye-catching TV, but the makers of “The New Look”, about the origins of Dior and Chanel, show there were dark moral challenges behind the glossy facade.

Fashion-based dramas are a hot trend right now.

Disney Plus is already showing “Balenciaga”, and will soon release “Kaiser Karl”, a lavish series about Karl Lagerfeld, adding to a glut of films such as “House of Gucci”, “Saint Laurent”, “Phantom Thread” and “Mrs Harris Goes to Paris”.

For those unfamiliar with the history of French couture, “The New Look”, streaming on Apple TV from Wednesday, may seem a sombre addition to the genre.

Focusing on Christian Dior and Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel, played by Ben Mendelsohn and Juliette Binoche, it tracks the grim years of the Nazi occupation of Paris.

Chanel’s behaviour during the war is an ongoing source of debate among historians, with many accusing her of collaboration.

She closed her business when the Nazis took over but continued to live in luxury at the Ritz hotel, took a German officer as her lover and used anti-Jewish laws to try to wrest control of her company from Jewish business partners.

“It’s easy to believe you would do the right thing in that situation, but these characters were terrified for their lives, and I think it’s very hard to judge them,” producer Todd Kessler told AFP.

“Dior, Chanel, Balenciaga, Balmain — all these people were making decisions of how they could possibly survive,” he added.

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