‘The New Look’ Episode 1 Recap & Ending Explained: What Happened To Christian Dior’s Sister?

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The New Look, created by Todd A. Kessler, takes us back in time to the era of chaos when the Nazis were wreaking havoc on Europe. Ben Mendelsohn plays the character of Christian Dior, and through his nuanced performance, he makes us privy to the kind of struggles the prolific designer had to go through in the early 1940s and how his rivalry with Coco Chanel became the talk of the town. So, let’s find out what happened in the first episode of The New Look and what kind of allegations were made by Coco Chanel against Christian Dior.

Spoiler Alert


What did Coco Chanel accuse Dior of? 

In 1955, in Paris, Christian Dior was being felicitated, and he had to come on stage and give a speech. For the last decade, the man had put himself on the world map through his exquisite designs, gained prominence, and become a cult figure in France. His name was taken together with other pioneers of the fashion field, though he was still as humble as he was when he was a nobody, and the world didn’t recognize his talent. The man of the hour was in between a tarot card reading, and Madame Zehnacker had to convince him to come out on the stage as the audience was waiting for him. Around the same time, Coco Chanel was coming back to Paris, as she was living in Switzerland after the war. Press reporters asked her what she thought about Dior being felicitated at the Sorbonne, and like a sore loser, Chanel replied that she didn’t care about what other designers were doing as only the house of Chanel was a champion of haute couture.

Chanel was an exquisite designer, and there was no denying that, but the way she behaved and the arrogance she showed didn’t suit her legacy. On the other hand, there was a humble man sitting on stage who gave due credit to the brand Chanel and replied with the utmost courtesy when a reporter asked him a question along similar lines. Where Coco Chanel crossed the boundary was when she called him a Nazi supporter. She said that he supplied clothes to the German girls even when he knew how they had destroyed the entire country. When a reporter asked Dior to comment upon it, he took everyone down the memory lane when he worked for Lucien Lelong and designed clothes that were supplied to the Germans. Dior said that behind every story was another story that not a lot of people didn’t know about. As the crowds eagerly listened to him, he started narrating his tale. 


Did Coco Chanel not make dresses for the Nazis? 

As per Pierre Balmain, in The New Look episode 1, Coco didn’t have anything to do with the Nazis, and she hated them to her core. The first question that Dior asked Balmain was: if she was so vehemently against the Germans, then why was she staying at the Ritz, and how was she able to live such a privileged life? Coco’s nephew was in Nazi prison, and she asked Baron Vaufreland to help her cause. Baron had close ties with the German high command, and he pulled some strings and made sure that Coco’s nephew was released from prison. Coco wanted to pay Baron a handsome amount because she was grateful for all the help she had received, but that’s when she realized that her accounts had been blocked, and she couldn’t access them. The Wertheimer brothers, who were her partners, had escaped France and went to the US, and they stopped picking up her calls or replying to her. The bank manager told her that he wouldn’t be able to help her cause but said that probably the Nazi soldiers could help her since her partners were Jews. Baron informed Coco Chanel that Commander Walter Schellenberg wanted to meet her in person, and if she didn’t, then they would put him in prison. Coco had no option but to go to the party and meet them. Coco was welcomed by Hans von Dincklage, aka Spatz, and he made her meet the German high official Heinrich Himmler. As history tells us, Himmler was the mastermind behind the Holocaust, and he told Coco how he wanted to make Berlin the capital of haute couture. Coco told how Lelong was a nobody and how he used other designers to make dresses for him. After the dinner, Spatz took Coco to an abandoned mansion and asked her to take whatever she wanted from there.

Throughout the beginning of The New Look, Coco maintained the fact that she hated the Nazis, but at that juncture, it seemed like she was enjoying her time there. She shared an intimate moment with Spatz and then later met Commander Walter Schellenberg. The commander took Coco in private, and he told her that if she completed a task for them, he would definitely make sure that she could access her accounts. He didn’t tell her exactly what the task was, but Coco knew that it wouldn’t be an easy one. So basically, Coco Chanel could take the defense that she was forced to work for the Nazis, but the truth remained that she did attend their parties and reap whatever benefits she could in return for carrying out tasks for them.


What happened to Dior’s sister? 

Dior’s sister, Catherine, and her partner were part of the resistance movement. The question that the press reporters asked Christian Dior was actually asked of him earlier as well. His own sister called him out for making dresses for the wives and girlfriends of Nazi soldiers, and she told him that he shouldn’t be doing such things. But then Christian Dior made her privy to reality. The big paychecks that he earned were not used for his personal needs, but he gave them all to the resistance so that they could keep their movement going. He told them that the moment he stopped working for Lelong, they wouldn’t have the means to survive. One of the members of the French resistance movement, named Jean, came and stayed with Dior, and then later, when he felt that he had put the man’s life in jeopardy, he decided to leave the house and stay with his other colleague. A raid was conducted at the house where they were putting up, and the Nazi soldiers took them all into custody. 

At the end of The New Look episode 1, Dior went to the same party where Coco Chanel had gone to meet Commander Walter Schellenberg, but his purpose of visit was very different from hers. He was called because the dress he had made for the wife of the host was apparently torn. When he went inside the room, he realized that the wife of the host had called him because she wanted to inform him about Catherine. She had gone to school with Catherine, and she had realized that the latter was part of the resistance movement. She told Dior that the Nazis knew about it and that very soon, they would capture her. She asked Dior to leave immediately and warn her sister about her impending doom, but before he could do that, Catherine was captured and taken by the German soldiers to their hideout. In the subsequent episodes, we would get to know what happened to Catherine and what task Coco Chanel was expected to do. 


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Sushrut Gopesh
Sushrut Gopesh
I came to Mumbai to bring characters to life. I like to dwell in the cinematic world and ponder over philosophical thoughts. I believe in the kind of cinema that not necessarily makes you laugh or cry but moves something inside you.

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