The new drama is released, and Dior and Chanel are facing each other head-on

The rise of the high-end fashion industry brings up old stories.

According to Fashion Business News, the American drama “The New Look”, directed by Apple TV+, was officially released on February 14th. Emmy winning Australian actor Ben Mendelsohn and French Oscar winning actress Juliette Binoche respectively starred in Christian Dior and Coco Chanel. The series has attracted widespread market attention since its release.

This 10 episode series is inspired by real-life events and is set in Paris during World War II. It mainly tells the story of how Christian Dior quickly rose in competition with Coco Chanel, creating the New Look series that led modern fashion and becoming the most influential designer of the time. As the plot develops, the story will also involve other contemporary design masters, including Pierre Balmain, Hubert de Givenchy, Yves Saint Laurent, and others.

As the first film and television series to focus on the commercial competition between Christian Dior and Coco Chanel, “The New Look” has aroused the interest of many fashion enthusiasts and even ordinary audiences. The official trailer released by Apple TV on YouTube a month ago has received over 7.42 million views.

Although based on the three episodes released so far, “The New Look” seems more like a historical plot than a fashion film, viewers are still curious about the stories of two influential masters in French and even world fashion history. At present, the film has a rating of 7.1 on the world’s most well-known and influential film review website IMBd.

The New Look creates a tense atmosphere between the two from the beginning. Coco Chanel announced his return to the high-end stage due to dissatisfaction with Christian Dior’s design. At the same time, New Look, which emphasizes the beauty of body curves, emerged from the auditorium of the University of Sorbonne in Paris and won applause. This is Christian Dior’s famous work.

Even though it was described by Coco Chanel as a work that “ruined French haute couture,” the New Look collection’s position in fashion history cannot be shaken. It is like a shooting star illuminating the dim Parisian life shrouded in post-war shadows.

According to the paper “World War II and Fashion: The Birth of New Look” written by Lauren Olds, during World War II, due to a shortage of resources, the British government had strict regulations on the use of clothing fabrics such as wool and silk, and set limits on the number of clothing that each person could purchase. It was also required that large clothing and shoes must have functionality and wear resistance.

At the same time, as women joined the labor force of factories to replace men in war, pants began to replace skirts, and a simple and simple fashion style became the norm during the war period, continuing into the post-war period when everything was in vain.

But the situation changed after Christian Dior launched his first spring/summer fashion collection in his studio on Montaigne Avenue in 1947.

On the one hand, the designs in this series generally use fabrics that are several times or even more than ten times that of a wartime garment, and the ultimate cutting and craftsmanship pile up the dream of luxurious fashion. On the other hand, this series has completely changed the square shoulder straight silhouette of the past decade. Taking the highly renowned Bar Jacket as an example, it features a soft shoulder pad design that accentuates the wasp waist, while the skirt silhouette extends outward from the hips to the calves. The flower like silhouette emphasizes the unique curves of women.

After the show, Carmel Snow, then the editor in chief of the American version of “Fashion Basha,” exclaimed that it had presented a new look, and New Look became the name of the series.

It is not difficult to see from the title that the main storyline of “The New Look” will revolve around Christian Dior, which means that the film will portray this gentle aristocratic young man with strong ink, who created the founder of the fashion house who now stands at the top of the luxury brand pyramid.

Analysts point out that compared to Chanel’s frequent incorporation of founder Coco Chanel into the brand narrative, Dior founder Christian Dior’s image is not well-known to ordinary consumers.

We understand Coco Chanel’s independent and sincere personality, knowing that she likes white camellias, and the number 5 is her lucky number. Even when talking about Coco Chanel, we can see an elegant lady wearing a top hat, a layered pearl necklace around her neck, and a coarse woolen suit. But regarding Christian Dior himself, the impression of consumers is mostly vague.

There are many reasons that lead to the gap between the two, including Christian Dior’s premature death, but it cannot be denied that the founder’s story has not been fully portrayed and fully utilized.

For luxury brands that constantly reaffirm their brand heritage and raise premiums through it, the founder and the development history of the brand are one of the most important implicit assets, but it is difficult to gain attention that matches their position in the market.

Part of the reason is that for a long period of time, these stories were often presented through brand documentaries, but the weakness of documentaries in terms of plot often led to their influence being limited to fashion enthusiasts. To some extent, this actually goes against the original intention of releasing documentaries, which is to let more consumers delve into brand history.

The audience is not uninterested in the front and behind the scenes of the fashion industry. On the contrary, due to the relatively closed industry environment and glamorous final works, consumers often have a strong curiosity about luxury brands and their founders, which is far from what the limited spoilers of brand official accounts or spokespersons on social media accounts can satisfy.

From this perspective, fashion film and television dramas with lower viewing barriers due to their ups and downs and dramatic storylines can serve as a supplement to documentaries with significant limitations in their dissemination, becoming a window for audiences to glimpse the secrets of the industry.

Perhaps sensing the future potential of biographical themes from fashion masters, Apple TV has stated that “The New Look” is just the beginning, and will continue to release dramas about fashion idols such as Pierre Balmain, Crist ó bal Balenciaga, Hubert de Givenchy, Pierre Cardin, and Yves Saint Laurent.

Film and television dramas with fictional elements cannot replace documentaries as the official business card of brands. However, with the advent of the streaming media era, luxury brands that have been attached to various media to complete content iteration also need to keep up with the pace of the times and complete a new round of brand value shaping.

This is also the reason why Dior fully supports the release of The New Look. It is reported that in order to facilitate the fashion designer Karen Muller Serreau in reproducing classic designs for the film, Dior has provided her with numerous brand archives and heritage for reference. The final design presented was also jointly determined by Dior’s internal experts and Karen Muller Serreau.

Since the release of the film, Dior has posted a total of 6 related content on its official Instagram account, receiving over 420000 likes in total.

At the premiere of “The New Look” held last week, Dior’s current creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri also took inspiration from Mr. Christian Dior’s fashion revolution in the 1940s and customized a black woolen crepe dress for lead actress Juliette Binoche, while actress Glenn Close, who played Carmel Snow, also wore Dior’s classic woolen jacket.

In addition to emphasizing brand cultural heritage, the increasing participation of luxury brands in fashion film and television production is also due to the latter’s intuitive stimulation of sales performance.

In 2021, the movie “House of Gucci” starring Adam Driver and Lady Gaga was released and grossed as much as $21.8 million in the United States within five days, setting a new adult drama record since 2020. The movie tells the story of Maurizio Gucci, the owner of the Gucci brand, and his wife Patrizia Reggian in 1995. The stylist is Janty Yates, the 73rd Academy Award winner for Best Costume Design.

It is reported that Janty Uates replicated Gucci’s classic designs from the 1970s and 1980s in order to recreate the image of Patrizia Reggian in the first half of her life, such as Horsebit buckle, Bamboo Bag bamboo joint bag, and Silk Flora Scarf silk floral headscarf hanging around her neck. Gucci loaned out archival works from the 1970s for Janty Yates to access, and also provided the necessary scenes for the movie.

The e-commerce platform LoveThesales report found that the search volume for Gucci bags by its users has surged by over 250% since the first week of the film’s release. According to data from the shopping platform ShopStyle, the search volume for “Gucci” on the platform increased by 31% after the film was released, with searches for Gucci belts, handbags, and loafers recording an increase of 73%, 67%, and 50%, respectively.

ShopStyle also found a surge in search volume related to the costumes of the House of Gucci movie, with the entry for “pinstripe suits” alone recording a strong growth of 67%.

But the suits of the actors in the movie were not from Gucci, but were custom-made and designed by Ermenegildo Zegna. In other words, as long as it is exposed in a film branded as a fashion show, the brand can gain considerable exposure, even if the product may not come from the brand primarily discussed in the show. Even, sometimes the label of a “fashion show” is not a necessity.

Netflix experienced a similar situation in two popular TV dramas in 2020, “Abandoned Soldiers on the Back Wing” and “Crown”. The search volume for fashion items such as the plaid coat and white wool coat worn by the female lead in “Abandoned Soldiers on the Back Wing” suddenly surged, while research firm Stylight observed an increase in the click through volume of some of the main fashion items played by Princess Diana in “Crown”.

The discussion about styling in another popular drama, “The War of Inheritance,” has even surpassed that of single products, pushing the trend of old money to a climax in the market. The image of the traditional wealthy class in the drama satisfies people’s fantasies about the term “old money”. They advocate cleverly showcasing their status through texture, cutting, and extremely low-key logos, while detesting all fashion with flashy logos and wild prints.

As a result, the exposure of Italian cashmere luxury brands Brunello Cucinelli, Loro Piana, and Ralph Lauren, a representative brand of American old money style, has exploded, driving up brand sales.

According to Brunello Cucinelli’s preliminary financial data for the 2023 fiscal year, brand sales during the period increased by 23.9% year-on-year at the current exchange rate to 1.14 billion euros, breaking the 1 billion euro mark for the first time and achieving sales targets five years ahead of schedule. Meanwhile, Brunello Cucinelli also achieved its best performance ever in the fourth quarter of the 2023 fiscal year, with sales still soaring by 15.6% to 321 million euros, building on the high performance of the same period last year.

Although LVMH Group never disclosed the specific revenue of its brands, Chairman Bernard Arnault stated in a financial report meeting earlier this year that Loro Piana’s current growth rate is already slightly higher.

Film and television dramas seem to benefit luxury brands without causing any harm, as they can not only meet the requirements of brand value shaping under long-term principles, but also bring short-term traffic dividends that can be directly realized.

But when we changed our perspective and aimed the camera at the other protagonist Coco Chanel in The New Look, the situation changed.

Industry insiders predict that due to the fact that “The New Look” involves content related to Coco Chanel, most of which are stories that the Chanel brand rarely actively mentions, the broadcast of the show may have a certain impact on the Chanel brand’s reputation. In fact, some netizens have expressed in comments that Coco Chanel’s image has subverted her imagination.

However, this issue is not limited to Chanel, and its source does not lie in the exposure of movies and TV dramas, which can only be seen as a catalyst.

With the increasing diversity of consumer information acquisition channels, the era of single brand output is no longer the case, which means that founders will transform from a portrayed image to a concrete person.

Driven by consumer curiosity about the founder, topics that were deliberately avoided in the past will become undeniable, and the true face beneath the veil is likely to bring considerable controversy to the brand, especially in the current industry environment that constantly emphasizes corporate values.

When a string of letters rises from the cold storefront of a shopping mall counter to become a vibrant brand founder, the benefits and challenges of luxury brands coexist.

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