In “Becoming Karl Lagerfeld” on Disney+, Jacques de Bascher Emerges as the True Hero

Joe Parker

Becoming Karl Lagerfeld

Series Overview: The Rise of Karl Lagerfeld

Following in the footsteps of Cristóbal Balenciaga and Christian Dior, Karl Lagerfeld’s journey is now being brought to life on screen. Disney+’s latest series, “Becoming Karl Lagerfeld,” debuts on June 7th, inviting viewers to delve into the early career of the legendary designer. Set in the vibrant 1970s, the series stars Daniel Brühl (known for “Kingsman” and “Inglourious Basterds”) as a 38-year-old Lagerfeld, who is still living with his mother but is already making waves in the fashion industry with his innovative approach at Chloé.

Karl Lagerfeld and His Rivals

Lagerfeld’s ambition to dominate the luxury fashion world places him in direct competition with heavyweights like Yves Saint Laurent (played by Arnaud Valois) and his partner Pierre Bergé (Alex Lutz), along with notable figures from the Parisian elite such as Loulou de La Falaise and Paloma Picasso. As he strives to revolutionize prêt-à-porter, a pivotal figure captures his interest and heart: Jacques de Bascher.

Jacques de Bascher: The Real Star

20th anniversary celebration of karl lagerfeld as fendi designer and perfume launch

In the adaptation of Raphaëlle Bacqué’s bestseller by Isaure Pisani-Ferry and Jennifer Have, Jacques de Bascher, played by Théodore Pellerin, emerges as the true star. This impeccably stylish dandy, who is seductive, witty, arrogant, and mysterious, not only occupies the screen but also dominates Lagerfeld’s thoughts. De Bascher’s affair with Lagerfeld’s rival, Yves Saint Laurent, adds layers of intrigue and drama. In 1973, Saint Laurent, captivated by de Bascher, drifts away from his work, causing turmoil in his partnership with Bergé, who eventually forces de Bascher to end the affair, leading to Saint Laurent’s downward spiral.

A Muse and a Controversial Figure

De Bascher’s flamboyant personality and his role as Lagerfeld’s muse have been well-documented. He played a significant part in shaping Lagerfeld’s creative world while maintaining a complex relationship with Saint Laurent. Despite the humor infused in the series, it remains true to the portrayal by journalist Marie Ottavi in her biography. According to Ottavi, de Bascher was driven by seduction, a trait that left a lasting impact on those around him.

A Life of Excess and Influence

Born in Vietnam in 1951 and raised in a bourgeois Catholic family in Neuilly-sur-Seine, de Bascher distanced himself from his conservative background, drawn to the vibrant Parisian nightlife. Meeting Lagerfeld at 21, he quickly embraced a life of parties, drugs, and alcohol. Although de Bascher had no financial means, Lagerfeld supported him, providing him with a lavishly decorated apartment on rue du Dragon, adorned with an oversized painting of gladiators, reflecting his extravagant tastes.

A Unique Relationship

Over their 18-year relationship, de Bascher and Lagerfeld maintained a unique bond characterized by a lack of sexual intimacy, morality, or exclusivity. De Bascher served as Lagerfeld’s eyes and ears, reporting back on the latest happenings in theaters, streets, and nightclubs. “Becoming Karl Lagerfeld” doesn’t shy away from depicting de Bascher’s multifaceted life, including his liberated sexuality during a time when homosexuality was criminalized.

A Protest Against Conformity

De Bascher’s lifestyle, marked by partying and defiance against societal norms, was his form of protest. The series highlights this aspect of his character, showing his controversial engagement with the world around him. Though Disney+ may present a somewhat sanitized version of his life, it still contributes to the narrative of this jet-set legend who passed away from AIDS in 1989.

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“Becoming Karl Lagerfeld” not only chronicles the rise of one of fashion’s most iconic figures but also sheds light on the influential and tumultuous life of Jacques de Bascher. This series promises to captivate audiences with its rich storytelling and complex characters, bringing to life the drama, rivalry, and passion of the fashion world.

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