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‘The New Look’ Creator Todd Kessler & Star Juliette Binoche On How Apple Series Grapples With Coco Chanel’s Nazi Ties

The New Look sheds a different light on a dark moment in history.

Set under the Nazi occupation of Paris during WWII, the series tells the story of Christian Dior’s rise to prominence, as he was pivotal in launching modern fashion despite navigating the horrors of the war. Of course, this story couldn’t be told without Coco Chanel who was one of the reigning fashion designers at the time.

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During Monday’s Apple TV+ Television Critics Association panel, series creator Todd Kessler mused about Chanel’s lasting legacy, which has managed to largely escape mass criticism despite her clear ties to the Nazi occupation. Throughout World War II, Chanel operated as an intelligence operative for the Nazis and was in a romantic relationship with a high-ranking German officer.

“I can’t say why it’s not on specific people’s radars,” Kessler said of Chanel’s past. “But the history is that there was testimony given at the Nuremberg trials by Walter Schellenberg, and his testimony was sealed because he was providing so much information that they agreed to seal his testimony. That testimony wasn’t opened until 40 years later…by then many people that he had spoken about had passed away.”

He reasoned this is likely why “much of this story has been concealed,” adding that he hopes to tell some of it for the first time in The New Look.

Juliette Binoche takes on the role of Chanel, whose position as the world’s most famous fashion designer is put into jeopardy as Dior and his contemporaries take a new approach to couture fashion. She told reporters that Chanel’s ties to the Nazis was just one facet of her “many” lives, which she found fascinating to explore through this role.

“I didn’t know very much about Coco, that’s why I wanted to do the show. I was interested in digging into her lives, because she had many. I enjoyed actually reading about her because even though she’s coming from a very poor family and being traumatized by her childhood, she really had amazing relationships with artists…and resistance as well as Germans,” Binoche said. “So the complexity of that character, I find it fascinating. And this show allowed me, because we have 10 episodes. to really go into it and developed, somehow, passion for her because she is so complex.”

Ben Mendelsohn, who plays Dior, also warned that the series is “not trying to paint a moral story.”

“We’re just really trying to look at circumstances and people that are trying to find their way through it, and how they are coming from where they come from,” he said.

The New Look is produced by Apple Studios and DB-AK Productions, and is written, executive produced and directed by Kessler. Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Mark Baker also serve as executive producers.

The 10-episode drama series will make its global debut with the first three episodes on Wednesday, February 14, 2024 on Apple TV+, followed by one episode every Wednesday through April 3.

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