The Forties will forever be remembered as the most glamorous decade of the 20th century. It was the era of Christian Dior’s ‘New Look’, when women eschewed the dowdy uniforms bestowed on them by wartime rationing and embraced their hourglass figures in full-skirts with nipped-in waists. It was the decade when Hollywood sirens like Rita Hayworth, Jean Harlow and Sofia Loren, oozed sophistication on the big screen. It’s basically our favourite fancy-dress theme, ever.
Now a new series showing on Amazon Prime – The Collection - is set to capture the glamour of that time – as well as the scandal bubbling up from beneath the surface… (well, it is from the same people who made Ugly Betty and Desperate Housewives). Set in a Parisian atelier, the show follows two brothers, Claude and Paul Sabine, who dream of launching a brand new way of dressing that celebrates the female form (so far, so Dior…) while also dealing with romantic and political intrigues. Here’s everything you need to know about your new favourite TV show…
The show is set after the close of World War II, when Paris is just starting to get back on its feet after the Nazi occupation. It follows two brothers – Paul and Claude Sabine – who dream of creating a fashion line that will inspire and captivate the world, putting their beloved France back on the map in the fashion world. Claude is the tortured, creative brother; he has an amazing eye for design but often finds himself embroiled in torrid love affairs or all-day benders that risk squandering his talent. Meanwhile Paul is the more straight-forward businessman driving the label, willing to go to violent lengths to secure their future success. Hooked? Us too…
Although the story here features fictional characters, there’s no doubt that Christian Dior is the inspiration behind the tale. The designer’s ‘New Look’ provoked a seismic shift in the fashion world and even provoked some controversy. When Dior premiered his whimsical new designs people were offended; they didn’t like the conspicuous display of wealth (it’s a bit like people asking for unmarked Net-A-Porter packages during the recession…) and women were actually attacked on the street for wearing his beautiful designs.
Richard Coyle is amazing as the intimidating and narcissistic Paul, while up-and-coming star Tom Riley is perfect as the more sensitive Claude. Aside from the male leads, there’s a brilliant cast of supporting actresses; look out for Mamie Gummer (Meryl Streep’s daughter), who plays Claude’s wealthy American wife Helen, as well as Frances de la Tour, who steals every scene she’s in as the manipulative matriarch controlling the brothers.
Now to the important stuff. Costume designers Chattoune & Fab were responsible for bringing to life the fashion of the glamorous decade, creating 40 bespoke gowns as well as 1,200 outfits for the rest of the cast. Inspired by the clothing of the decade, the duo was keen to make everything look as authentic as possible, but also unique; there were no Dior imitations allowed.
The Collection premieres on Amazon Prime on 2 September.
Don’t forget to subscribe to Grazia before 9 September to make sure you receive your 250-page Big Fashion issue. Click here to find out more.