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How The New Look recreated iconic Dior fashion show looks - Exclusive

Costume designer Karen Muller Serreau worked closely with Dior

Ben Mendelsohn as Dior and Bar Suit dress in Apple TV+'s The New Look
Nicky Morris
TV and film writer
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Apple TV+'s new biographical drama, The New Look, tells the stories of one of the world's most famous fashion houses: Dior. The ten-part series documents the rise of French designer Christian Dior, as he and his contemporaries, including Coco Chanel, Pierre Balmain, and Cristóbal Balenciaga, launched modern fashion amid the horrors of World War II in Nazi-occupied Paris.

Sitting down with HELLO!, the show's costume designer Karen Muller Serreau walked us through how she recreated Dior's most iconic fashion designs, detailing the intricate behind-the-scenes process.

WATCH: The trailer for Apple TV+s The New Look

"I was absolutely thrilled when I got this project, then slightly daunted and really excited," said Karen, whose previous credits include The Serpent Queen, and the 2021 thriller starring Matt Damon, Stillwater

"I started by reading the scripts, and then documenting them with images to get an idea of the atmosphere before building storyboards around that," explained the designer, whose research included looking through the Dior archives for information about the famous designer's life and family. 

Ben Mendelsohn and John Malkovich in The New Look© Apple TV+
Ben Mendelsohn as Christian Dior and John Malkovich as Lucien Lelong in The New Look

Karen also worked closely with Hélène Starkman, the longtime cultural projects manager at Christian Dior Couture, to recreate iconic looks from two significant fashion shows from Dior's career: his first collection as a new designer in 1947, as well as his Paris show in 1956. 

"We started off by looking at what there was in the archives, plus sketches and anything from the press at that time. Once we got that, we chose the dresses," said Karen, who had the task of choosing between 10 and 12 out of 90 dresses for each collection. 

The Bar Suit recreated in Apple TV+'s The New Look© Apple TV+
Dior's iconic designs were recreated in the show, including The Bar Suit

"When I made that selection, I went to Dior and showed them what we wanted to do," she continued, explaining how together with Dior Heritage, she chose the best shapes to represent the styles from both fashion shows. This included one of Dior's most iconic designs, The Bar Suit, which the American press immediately dubbed the 'New Look' when it was first presented in 1947. 

Christian Dior's The Bar Suit is presented in the salons of 30 Avenue Montaigne, Paris, 1947© Eugene KAMMERMAN
Christian Dior's The Bar Suit is presented in the salons of 30 Avenue Montaigne, Paris, 1947

"They didn't have any dresses in the 1947 archive, except for the Bar Suit which has been recreated before and so we could see that," she said. "Otherwise, it was looking at swatches of cloth which we used for our colour boards to recreate identical colours. Anything we could choose that had prints on them that were big enough, we chose and got them printed."

While Karen admitted it was a "daunting" task to recreate Dior's designs, she had the help of a fashion workshop in Paris, who had already made many miniatures of the designer's dresses. "They had a great understanding of the extraordinary structure inside of them which help make fantastic feminine sculptural shapes," the designer explained, before going on to reveal how she and Hélène would analyse each design before cutting any real cloth. 

Apple TV's The New Look© Apple TV+
Karen accessed Dior archives for her research

"We always started off by making cloth patterns to begin with, which we then fitted onto our models. Then Hélène would come along and we would stand with all the documents we had on each dress and see where a seam needed to be moved, where a waist needed to be higher or lower, or where a hemline wasn't quite right and adjusted it all before cutting anything else in the real cloth."

The New Look is available to stream on Apple TV+.

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