This New Fashion TV Series On Christian Dior Will Have You Hooked - The Gloss Magazine

This New Fashion TV Series On Christian Dior Will Have You Hooked

‘The New Look’ is a ten-part historical series on Apple TV+ which captures the tensions and rivalries within the world of haute couture…

Main featured image: Ben Mendelsohn as Christian Dior. Photographs throughout via Apple TV.

For fashion lovers, Valentine’s Day promises to be extra special this year, when The New Look premieres on Apple TV+ in Ireland – a ten-episode drama series from Grammy award-winner Todd A Kessler. The all-star cast includes Ben Mendelsohn, Maisie Williams, John Malkovich, Emily Mortimer, Claes Bang, Glenn Close and Juliette Binoche.

Inspired by true events and filmed in Paris, the series centres on fashion designers Christian Dior, Coco Chanel and their contemporaries, including Pierre Balmain and Cristóbal Balenciaga and how they navigated the war, especially the Nazi occupation of Paris.

During such a turbulent time in world history, a new way of dressing emerged. It was Irish editor Carmel Snow, (portrayed by Glenn Close) editor-in-chief of Harper’s Bazaar from 1934 to 1958, who famously coined the phrase “The New Look” in praise of Dior’s post-war sartorial revolt. Women who had previously been confined to the frumpiness of wartime dress enthusiastically embraced the exuberant designs he produced. In fact, it was on February 12, 1947 that Dior presented his first collection called “Corolle” and “En Huit”, prompting Snow to exclaim, “It’s quite a revolution, dear Christian. Your dresses have such a New Look!”

Glenn Close as Carmel Snow.

Inspiration for Dior’s collections came from his passions, namely La Belle Époque which his mother Isabelle Cardamone – a woman whom he adored – had symbolised for him, with her penchant for wasp-like silhouettes and lavish textiles. Flowers, particularly roses and lily of the valley, were a further inspiration, especially those grown at his family home and garden at Granville, Normandy. (At each fashion show at least one model would be instructed to carry a bouquet of white lilies).

Juliette Binoche as Coco Chanel.

While the series charts Dior’s remarkable career (he’s played by Ben Mendelssohn), it’s also about rivalry and jealousies within the industry. As Dior’s star was in the ascendant, Coco Chanel’s waned. Chanel, (played by Juliette Binoche in The New Look) famously declared, “Look how ridiculous these women are, wearing clothes by a man who doesn’t know women, never had one, and dreams of being one.” She went further: “Dior doesn’t dress women. He upholsters them,” and that a woman sitting in a Dior dress looked like “an old armchair”. Chanel accused him of dragging women back to 19th-century ideals of femininity.  Others protested about the designer’s excessive use of fabric after the frugality of the wartime which garnered Dior the title: “The Tyrant of Hemlines”.

Perhaps some of the backlash against Mr Dior was due to his appearance; he was plump and softly spoken and did not fit the stereotypes of a revolutionary designer. Society photographer, Cecil Beaton, described him as “like a country doctor … modest as a sugar violet”, although he also noted that Dior was “a bourgeois with his feet well planted in the soil of reality”. His father was a rich man whose fortune was based on the manufacture of chemicals and fertilisers.

Prior to his career in fashion, Dior toyed with the idea of becoming an architect, before enrolling at the École des Sciences Politiques to study political science in 1925. Upon graduating, his father bought him an art gallery; a space that displayed the works of Pablo Picasso, Jean Cocteau, Georges Braque and Salvador Dalí. It was later in 1935, at the age of 30 that Dior began working as a fashion illustrator before founding his own fashion house in 1946, on 30 Avenue Montaigne in Paris. Dior’s fashion show in 1947 was the first to be termed “Haute Couture”, setting new standards for the fashion industry, which have been maintained with successive creative directors from Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Bohan, Gianfranco Ferre, John Galliano, Raf Simons and Maria Grazia Chiuri.

Maisie Williams as Catherine Dior.

While it remains to be seen how much of Dior’s background is revealed in the series, we can expect some sibling tension. While Dior, like many of his contemporaries, dressed many of the German Nazi officers’ wives, his sister Catherine, (played by Maisie Williams in The New Look), served as a member of the French Resistance. Eventually Catherine was captured by the Gestapo and sent to the Ravensbrück concentration camp, where she was incarcerated until her liberation in 1945. Two years later, Dior named his debut fragrance Miss Dior, as a tribute to the heroism of his sibling. For further background information, do read Justine Picardie’s Miss Dior, A Wartime Story of Courage and Couture.

The New Look promises a feast of history and haute couture as well as an immersive soundtrack featuring covers of popular early to mid-20th century songs performed by artists including Bleachers, Florence Welch, Lana Del Rey, Matty Healy and Nick Cave.

Need to Know: For viewers in Ireland, the ten-episode series will debut on Apple TV+ on February 14, with the first three episodes dropping initially on the streaming platform, followed by one episode every Wednesday until April 3. For more information, visit www.tv.apple.com.

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