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The New Look (2024)

“For those who lived through the chaos of war”, Christian Dior replies in answer to a student’s question “there is the truth, but there is always another truth that lives behind it.” Whereas Dior continued to design gowns for Nazi wives and girlfriends during the four-year occupation of France, Coco Chanel decided to close her store rather than profit from their commerce. That is the truth, but the truth that lives behind it is that Dior used the money to help fund his sister’s involvement in the Resistance while Chanel took a Nazi spy as a lover. Though Dior may have been persuaded by his employer’s conviction that creation was their best chance of survival, Chanel apparently survived by any means necessary.

The rivalry between the two icons of fashion is apparent from The New Look’s opening minutes with Chanel conducting a press conference celebrating the re-opening of her Paris couture house on the same day Dior is being lauded at the Sorbonne. Flashback to 1943 and the two are desperately trying to keep their family protected from the scourge of Nazi occupation. Dior is doing all he can to keep his sister from being captured while Chanel employs questionable tactics to facilitate her nephew’s release from a POW camp. It’s a scenario that sets up the limited series beautifully. Regrettably, The New Look is unable to sustain much interest over the remaining nine episodes.

In doesn’t help that Dior is depicted as a troubled soul who continuously mopes around war-torn Paris (not that his mood improves once the Nazi’s are defeated). Hamstrung by the material, Ben Mendelsohn gives an atypical lacklustre performance. In contrast, Juliet Binoche gives is extravagant as Chanel, further delineating the difference between the two main protagonists. Yet her story increasingly deviates from historical fact with each successive episode, with multiple subplots leaving The New Look looking not so much like ‘The Winds of War’ as ‘The Bold and the Beautiful’.

Regrettably, as with that long-running soap opera set against the world of fashion, The New Look fabricates an elaborate storyline and spreads it out until it becomes almost threadbare.

Ben Mendelsohn, Christian Dior, Juliette Binoche, Coco Chanel, John Malkovich
Lucien Lelong, Thomas Poitevin, Pierre Balmain, Nuno Lopes, Cristóbal Balenciaga

Though The New Look depicts Spatz extorting money from Chanel after threatening to kill her nephew, thw two actually remained lovers until the early 1950’s, at which time they amicably parted ways.


Coco Chanel and Elsa Lombardi did not see each other again after the collapse of ‘Operation Modelhut”.

Pierre Cardin, Arletty, Edith Piaf, Jean Cocteau

No reference is made to the fashion designers' cinematic work

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