The Apple TV drama shows how Dior brought optimism to a war-weary world

“1947” by Christian Diorrecent look“ – a group of hats with extravagant brims, wide, full skirts and cinched waists that drew attention to the feminine silhouette – ushered in a brand new post-war era of optimism, joy and a return to normality in life.

Dior's Haute Couture The collection stays a historic moment for post-war fashion and offers its name to Apple's recent ten-piece series. The drama examines the state of Paris couture within the last 12 months of World War II and the years that followed through the lives of key designers. These include Dior and his contemporaries Coco Chanel, Pierre Balmain, Cristóbal Balenciaga, Lucien Lelong, Hubert de Givenchy and Pierre Cardin.

A gloomy looking man sits at a desk and has some fashion designs on the desk in front of him.
Ben Mendelsohn as Dior in Apple's recent drama.
Landmark Media / Alamy

Inspired by true events, the series stars Ben Mendelsohn as Dior, Maisie Williams as his younger sister Catherine, Juliette Binoche as Chanel, John Malkovich as Lelong and Glenn Close as US fashion editor of Harper's Bazaar Carmel Snow.

The series begins within the wake of Dior's great success with the introduction of his recent look Collection in 1947 with a Q&A on the Sorbonne University in Paris. After a boisterous welcome from an audience of fashion students, the Frenchman explains: “For those who experienced the chaos of war, creation was survival.”

This is the theme of the series, revealed in flashback: how the destruction and horror of war affected the world-famous Paris fashion market – its designers, design houses, those that worked within the industry, and the people of France itself.

A central figure on and off the screen is Dior brave Sister Catherine, little known and infrequently mentioned in Dior's life story, other than naming his perfume Ms. Dior in her honor in 1947. Throughout the series, her fate is symbolic of the French people's experience of occupation and is portrayed because the driving force behind Dior's commitment to couture.

A black and white image of a man kneeling at a model's feet, fixing the hem of her skirt.
Christian Dior in 1953.
Granger – Historical Image Archive / Alamy

French fashion in the course of the war

In June 1940, Nazi troops took control of northern and western France and its textile industries. In November 1942, the remaining of southern and eastern France fell to the German Wehrmacht.

Before the occupation, many non-French designers, reminiscent of Elsa Schiaparelli, left the country for London, New York and Los Angeles in anticipation of war. After the Nazi invasion, Paris and its international fashion markets were effectively cut off from the remaining of the world.

Couturier Lucien Lelong features prominently within the series as Dior's supportive employer – although the important thing role he played in keeping the Paris couture industry open for business might have been highlighted rather more. “Creation cannot stop the bullets, but creation is our way forward,” the character explains. True to his word, Lelong employed a number of the most successful post-war designers in his studio in the course of the war, including Dior, Pierre Balmain and Hubert de Givenchy.

An illustration of two Dior designs, one a dress, one a suit from 1954.
Dior designs from 1954.
Chronicle / Alamy

Lelong was elected president of the distinguished congress Chambre Syndicale de la Couture in 1937 and has rejected threats From the Nazis to the relocation of all the couture industry to Berlin and Vienna. He negotiated, persuaded and outmaneuvered the Germans throughout the war, insisting that couture – and the domestic textile industry on which it depended – was uniquely French and subsequently couldn’t be reproduced elsewhere.

The couture industry experienced strict fabric rationing. But the series successfully demonstrates Parisian fashion continuation with determination and innovation. As fashion designers were forced to limit the quantity of fabric used, unnecessary decorative additions reminiscent of ruffles and pockets became unnecessary. Instead, wartime couturiers turned to embroidery and beading for adornment – trends that proceed to shape high fashion today.

The Rival “American Look”

With the top of the war and liberation from the Nazi occupation, Parisian fashion fought for its survival. His biggest rival was the American able to wear Clothing industry, a facet of history dramatized to great effect on this recent series.

Although American industry also faced fabric rationing during World War II, it was not occupied and the restrictions weren’t as debilitating. While Asian silk and Italian wool were now not available, good American cotton was plentiful.

A brand new generation of American designers got here into their very own with a homegrown design aesthetic. In 1945 Dorothy RazorVice President of the luxurious retailer Lord & Taylordeveloped a marketing campaign across the phrase “the American look“. This successfully encouraged American women to recollect their roots and never return to the collections of the newly liberated Parisian fashion houses.

Dior's beacon of hope

Dior's 1947 Carolle collection, was renamed “New Look” at first glance by the American fashion editor Carmel Snow. Snow claimed it was the creation of a brand new femininity – which Dior would later call “”.the golden age of couture“.

It stood in stark contrast to the austere wardrobes of wartime Europe and America – garments that tens of millions of ladies all over the world would proceed to wear with on a regular basis creative adaptations and transformations for years to return.

A model presenting Christian Dior's new look from 1947.
A Dior model showing off his look in Paris.
Granger – Historical Image Archive / Alamy

In my opinion, leaving the actual content of the story in the brand new look until the eighth episode of a ten-part series suggests an absence of balance and makes the title of the drama seem slightly misleading. Despite what the voiceover within the trailer says, Dior's recent look hasn't reinvented fashion. Rather, the top of the dark years filled with war trauma, misery and deprivation was celebrated.

With his collection, Dior inspired optimism that ladies could once more benefit from the joy of pretty, feminine clothing that reflected individuality and joy. While rationing of food, fabrics and essentials continued into the Nineteen Fifties, this recent look gave an exhausted Europe the sensation that life was starting anew.

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