Haute couture and the Nazis: Everything you need to know about The New Look TV series

Entertainment

Inspired by the lives of some of the biggest names in fashion, Apple TV+ has released a new series centred around some of the star designers who lived in Paris during the Second World War.

It stars Ben Mendelsohn as fashion designer Christian Dior and Juliette Binoche as the matriarch of the House of Chanel, Coco Chanel.

The cast also includes Game of Thrones’ Maisie Williams as Catherine Dior, John Malkovich as Lucien Lelong, and Bad Sisters’ Claes Bang as Spatz (Baron Hans Gunther von Dincklage).

Pic. Apple TV+
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Haute couture is the star of the show in The New Look. Pic. Apple TV+

Pic: Apple TV+
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Juliette Binoche. Pic: Apple TV+

What’s it about?

The New Look focuses on Paris’s haute couture fashion houses during World War Two and the decisions the designers faced while under Nazi occupation.

The series was created by Todd A Keller – who previously worked on the hit shows The Sopranos and Bloodline – and centres on Christian Dior’s rise to prominence in the fashion world.

In the 1940s, Dior worked for Lucien Lelong in one of the fashion houses that remained open during the war. Staying open while under Nazi occupation meant they designed clothing for the wives of Nazi officials.

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Ben Mendelsohn, who plays Dior in the series, says it’s difficult to know how you would react to the situation, without witnessing it yourself in the moment.

(L-R) Ben Mendelsohn and John Malkovich. Pic: Apple TV+.
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(L-R) Ben Mendelsohn and John Malkovich. Pic: Apple TV+.

“When morality meets reality, then there’s very often an adjustment. You can have all of the ideas of who and how you are in the world, but when reality meets, you must respond to that or walk away from it”.

The fashion designer launched his debut collection in 1947 and it was nicknamed the ‘New Look’.

Speaking to Time magazine for their 1957 cover story, Dior said he turned women into “flowers with soft shoulders” after a long period of war with “soldier-women with shoulders like boxers”.

‘A big jump into the abyss’

One of the main characters in the Apple TV+ series is Coco Chanel – the woman credited for revolutionising women’s clothing in the 20th century.

Chanel had been considered one of the most famous designers at the time and was living at The Ritz in Paris during the 1940s.

(L-R) Juliette Binoche and Emily Mortimer. Pic: Apple TV+
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(L-R) Juliette Binoche and Emily Mortimer. Pic: Apple TV+

The series depicts her socialising with Nazi officials including Heinrich Himmler – a leading member of the Nazi Party in Germany.

Oscar-winner Juliette Binoche depicts Chanel in the show and says her scene with Himmler was shot on her first day on set.

“I have to tell you, this scene was for me a big one because it was my first scene. It was my first day of shooting and actually it was a night shoot. And to enter Chanel’s character, being with Himmler was like a big jump into the abyss and I was frightened”.

The actress says it’s important to remember that the show is “fiction inspired by real events”.

She added: “I’m just praying all the time that, you know, the showrunner and the producers, they’ve done the homework, and all the information has been verified”.

Chanel’s association with Nazi officials had previously been inspected in the 2011 biography “Sleeping With The Enemy” by journalist Hal Vaughan.

It claimed the fashion designer became a German intelligence operative, was enlisted in spy missions and how she evaded arrest in France after the war.

However, in 2023, Justine Picardie who authored Coco Chanel: The Legend and The Life, said that the fashion mogul was actually a member of the French Resistance.

Pic: Apple TV+
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Pic: Apple TV+

Where was it filmed?

The Apple TV+ series was shot completely in Paris, at the same locations where the real events occurred.

Executive producer Todd A Keller says it was imperative to shoot on location at the places the fashion designers frequented and which the Nazis occupied.

He says: “The feeling of violation and oppression, by an outside army invading essentially and imposing strict order on the French we felt like [shooting on location] would really bring that world to life and we could transport the audience into it in a way that they may have never experienced previously”.

Masie Williams. Apple TV+
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Masie Williams. Apple TV+

Game Of Thrones star Maisie Williams

Maisie Williams plays Catherine Dior, the sister of Christian, in The New Look.

The 26-year-old actress moved to Paris for eight months to shoot the show and says the storyline made her reflect on the events that occurred in the country.

“We were bringing these banners back to the streets of Paris and it was just something I was very, brutally reminded of, just when speaking with a lot of the French crew and cast and actors, because this is something that, for me, I read in history books, but for Paris, this was like a really, really dark time that they went through”.

Pic: Apple TV+
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John Malkovich. Pic: Apple TV+

Where can I watch The New Look?

The first three episodes of The New Look are available to stream now on Apple TV+ with new episodes released every Wednesday.

The show’s finale is on Wednesday 3 April.

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