Hervé Papillault de Charbonneries: What Happened to Catherine Dior’s Boyfriend?

In Apple TV+’s ‘The New Look,’ the audience is transported to the cut-throat world of fashion, but things look much different because the story is set in the backdrop of the Second World War. Instead of competing against each other, people like Christian Dior and Coco Chanel found themselves against the Nazi regime, trying to save the people they love. Things get bleaker for Dior when his sister, Catherine, is arrested by the Nazis for working with the Resistance, which she joined with her boyfriend, Hervé. While Dior and Chanel’s arc takes precedence, Hervé remains an important presence throughout the story. What happened to him in real life?

Hervé Continued Working for the Resistance

Born in 1905, Hervé was a part of the French Resistance unit called F2, connected to Polish intelligence and funded by British intelligence during the Second World War. It was one of the most active resistance units in France, with over 2500 agents across the country. Hervé had already been a part of the Resistance when he crossed paths with Catherine Dior on a random day. He was also married to a woman named Lucie (also part of the Resistance), had three kids, and was twelve years older than Christian Dior’s younger sister. Still, he and Catherine fell in love, and she followed him into the Resistance, becoming its member in 1941.

Hervé and Catherine lived in her brother’s house while he worked for Lucien Lelong. The couple was heavily involved in the workings of the unit, and even though a new member, Catherine became so deeply involved with them that she was soon on the most wanted list of the Nazis. She was eventually caught and tortured, asked to give up the names of her fellow members, but she didn’t rat out anyone, including Hervé, as well as her brother, who, though not an active member of the Resistance, indirectly supported them and would be killed for it.

While Christian tried to get his sister back, Hervé tried to help as much as he could, but he knew that Catherine’s chances of survival were rather slim. When the Allies marched into Paris, the Nazis wrapped up their stuff and moved on, taking all prisoners, including Catherine, back to Germany. She didn’t return home until May of 1945. In the meantime, Hervé continued to work for the Resistance, and with the little information he received about Catherine, he had to keep his head low and keep working for the greater good.

Catherine escaped her captivity in April 1945. She slipped away while the prisoners from the camp she was in were being transported to another, marching the entire way. It took her around a month to return to Paris, and when she got off the train, Hervé was there to greet her with her brother, Christian. The war was over, and the Resistance’s work was done. It was finally the opportunity for the couple to turn over a new leaf.

After a brief recovery period in Provence, Catherine returned to Paris, where she and Hervé initially lived with Christian in his apartment. To make ends meet for themselves, they started a business selling flowers. They remained with each other for the rest of their lives, though they never got married. Hervé never divorced his wife, but with both of them being content in other relationships, they’d decided to stay separated, and it was all amicable between them. Catherine had a good relationship with Hervé’s children, but the couple never had children of their own. Though they never took the vows of marriage, they did part at death when Hervé died in 1989 at the age of 84.

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