The New Look: A Flawed Portrayal of Fashion History

Explore the flaws in the portrayal of fashion history in the Apple TV drama series ‘The New Look,’ including the misrepresentation of Coco Chanel and the lack of focus on the designers’ actual work.

The New Look: A Flawed Portrayal of Fashion History

The new Apple TV drama series, “The New Look,” created by Todd Kessler, delves into the trials and triumphs of Parisian couturiers during and after World War II. With a focus on the iconic designer Christian Dior, the show aims to capture the essence of his struggles and ultimate success in the world of fashion.

The New Look: A Flawed Portrayal of Fashion History - 890513224

( Credit to: Rogerebert )

However, while the series presents a moving and intriguing narrative around Dior’s achievements, it fails to address the historical reality surrounding another prominent figure, Coco Chanel.

Misrepresentation of Coco Chanel

One of the most significant flaws in “The New Look” is its revisionist treatment of Coco Chanel. Despite extensive historical evidence revealing her collaboration with the Nazis, the writers of the series seem determined to minimize or even conceal this truth. Chanel’s story is handled with kid gloves, and her fight to control her business is portrayed as more debilitating than the experiences of European Jews during the war.

Inaccuracies in Chanel’s portrayal:

  • The series begins with a question posed to Dior about his involvement in creating gowns for Nazi women while Chanel closed her boutique out of patriotic loyalty. However, the truth is quite different. Chanel closed her boutique, citing that “it was not a time for fashion,” while simultaneously using “Aryan laws” to regain control of her company from the Wertheimer Brothers. She also collaborated with the Nazis and even worked as an agent for the Third Reich.
  • The New Look” fails to acknowledge Chanel’s anti-Semitic and homophobic views, instead painting her as a frightened woman forced to obey orders for self-preservation. This revisionism is deeply troubling and does a disservice to the historical record. While performances by Juliette Binoche, Ben Mendelsohn, and Maisie Williams may be commendable, the decision to manipulate Chanel’s narrative is deeply distasteful.

Limited focus on fashion and technical flaws

Despite being a series about fashion, “The New Look” spends little time exploring the designers’ actual work. The cinematography is also lacking, with shaky camera work that detracts from the overall viewing experience. Additionally, John Malkovich’s French accent leaves much to be desired, and the series fails to fully utilize costume designer Karen Muller Surreau’s talents.


“The New Look” may offer moments of emotional depth and compelling performances, particularly from Binoche, Mendelsohn, and Williams. However, its revisionist portrayal of Coco Chanel and its lack of focus on the designers’ actual work undermine its credibility. By distorting historical facts, the series fails to provide an accurate representation of the fashion industry during a tumultuous period in history. Ultimately, “The New Look” falls short of its potential and misses the mark in capturing the true essence of the fashion world during that era.

What do you think?

Written by Reddit Manga

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