Coco Chanel's collaboration with Nazis in 'The New Look' explored

The new Apple TV+ series, "The New Look," is a historical drama that delves into the lives of France's prominent mid-century fashion designers. While the show primarily focuses on Christian Dior and his impact on the world of haute couture after World War II, it also sheds light on the controversial and complex portrayal of Coco Chanel as a secret Nazi agent.

Previous depictions of Chanel have portrayed her as a tortured artist, a romantic figure, or an underdog who rose to fame in the fashion world. However, Todd A. Kessler's 10-part series presents a different side of Chanel, one that involves her collaboration with Nazi-German military intelligence during World War II.

Juliette Binoche and Emily Mortimer portray Coco Chanel and Elsa Lombardi in the series, highlighting the fashion icon's involvement with the Nazis. The true extent of Chanel's Nazi connections was revealed in Hal Vaughan's book, "Sleeping with the Enemy: Coco Chanel's Secret War," published in 2011. Vaughan's research, based on declassified documents, suggests that Chanel was not only a willing participant in Nazi operations but also a lifelong antisemite.

Chanel's antisemitism can be traced back to her upbringing in Catholic institutions during the Dreyfus affair, a scandal that fueled rampant antisemitism in France. When World War II broke out, Chanel closed her couture house and began a relationship with a German-British aristocrat with ties to the Nazi military intelligence organization.

Despite her involvement with the Nazis, Chanel managed to secure the release of her nephew and attempted to regain control of her perfume company from her Jewish business partners. She was also tasked with delivering a message to Winston Churchill on behalf of a Nazi spy, but the operation ultimately failed.

Chanel's legacy remains complicated, with her wartime collaborations hidden for years until Vaughan's revelations. The Chanel Group has acknowledged her wartime relationship, emphasizing the complexities of her actions during a tumultuous period in history.

As "The New Look" continues to unfold on Apple TV+, viewers are presented with a thought-provoking and controversial portrayal of Coco Chanel that challenges traditional narratives about the iconic fashion designer.


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