MenuForward LogoJoin

Coco Chanel, 'Horizontal Collaboration,' and Outfitting Occupied Paris

The designer Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel had a well-documented affair with the Nazi officer Hans Gunther von Dincklage, with whom she lived at Paris’s Ritz hotel throughout the German occupation of France. But you wouldn’t know that from watching the new biopic “Coco Before Chanel” (French-language trailer below), which portrays Mme. Chanel as an up-by-her-two-toned-ballet-flats heroine — and leaves out her wartime whereabouts altogether.

Sure, “Coco Before Chanel,” which stars Audrey Tautou and premieres stateside next month, begins and ends before 1940. But some European critics are calling out director Anne Fontaine for the omission of Chanel’s Nazi associations — not only from the film’s narrative, but also from the short biographical epilogue that appears onscreen before the closing credits.

Cosmo Landsman, in The Sunday Times, writes:

And Angelique Chrisafis’s review in The Guardian explains:

For all of her so-called “horizontal collaboration,” Chanel did close down her fashion business during the war, later telling those who took her to task for cavorting with Nazis, “At least I did that.”

But neither Occupation-era shop closings nor the mandated rationing of materials diminished Paris’s status as the world’s fashion capital, according to a new museum exhibit about women’s fashion trends under Nazi occupation. Paris’s famously fashionable residents — at least those lucky enough to be thinking about donning high-fashions, rather than about eluding Nazi guards — wore knitted broaches, crepe paper hats, wooden-soled shoes and summer gloves made from old bed linens.

The exhibit features some 400 accessories from the années noires, or dark years — including evidence of sartorial resistance, such as silk scarves covered ironically with collaborationist propaganda.”Accessoires et objets, témoignages de vies de femmes à Paris, 1940–1944” is on view through November at Paris’s Musée Jean Moulin, an exhibition space named for the famed French Resistance fighter Jean Moulin.

Share the Sisterhood

Share the Sisterhood

Share the Sisterhood

Close