‘Becoming Karl Lagerfeld’ Ending Explained & Finale Recap: What Pushes Karl Off The Edge?


It seems it is the year of the “fashion designer biographies,” as platform after platform is releasing a different one every few months. We had AppleTV+’s The New Look (a black hole on Dior’s legacy if you ask me), Disney+’s Cristobal Banelciaga, and now Hulu’s Becoming Karl Lagerfeld. There’s no denying that the white-haired man behind the glasses has been considered an icon for years, so much so that he’d even become a known face from iconic memes, but the TV series fictionalizes, or rather takes creative liberties on, his life for a decade before he became a legendary couturier. As it goes, shows such as this one often immortalize their subjects as saints who deserve pity and love, forgetting everything that they may have said or done that was terrible. Lagerfeld was known to be an outspoken man, insulting many with his harsh words and controversial bluntness; however, the show never shows him as that person. Perhaps it came at a later time, with the arrogance of being a great man; however, it’s the sincerity of the show-makers that has me concerned about the perception of its protagonist. With all that said, the show, despite being shallow in terms of the designer’s creative process (almost zilch about the designing), manages to give us insight into the man himself, and I suppose that’s what the title card reads, so maybe I’m the only one who’s disappointed. The series follows the tumultuous love triangle between Karl, his companion Jacques de Bascher, and Yves Saint Laurent (wonder when we’re getting that docu-series). 

Spoiler Alert

Why does Karl meet Pierre Berge? 

In Becoming Karl Lagerfeld‘s final episode, the designer is desperate to become a couturier. He’s expended all his energies on Chloe, and if he isn’t meant to have a couture house of his own, at least he can build Chloe into one. To do so, though, Karl needs the support of the haute couture federation, led by industrialist and entrepreneur Pierre Berge, Karl’s enemy. The thing is, with the onset of a new decade, Pierre was starting to sound like an oldie, while the new kids on the block like Mugler wanted to be different, wanted to change up the industry, and Karl was all for it, “whichever direction the wind takes him,” no? But when Karl becomes desperate to get Chloe the golden ticket, he asks Pierre to support him, and Pierre agrees to do so if Karl is willing to side with him against the newbies. 

On the other hand, on the personal side of things, Karl attempts to send Jacques to Monaco by himself so he can handle the couture situation and join Jacques later. He can’t simply give up on his dream because the boy’s struggling. It’s an odd predicament, for sure, because Karl is in fact very much in love with Jacques, but he simply can’t express it in the way Jacques requires. Karl shows up at Jacques’ apartment, where his friends are hosting a farewell for him. He tells Jacques about sending him away on his own. When Jacques doesn’t take the news well, Karl offers him a second proposition, a preposterous one at that, offering to adopt him so that Jacques can be certain their bond is real and legal (yikes!). Jacques then throws a massive fit hand returns to his going-away surprise party. The situation makes him so upset that he even ends up making out with a female friend. 

On the other hand, Karl’s also losing his relationship with Gaby Aghion of Chloe because he’s been so focused on this couture thing that he never once stopped to consult her about her own company. Their relationship had been rocky for a few years before this point, but Gaby reminds him that the more important things than revenge are love, friendship, and trust. A bond that they used to share. See, it appears as if Karl’s only goal is to show Pierre and Yves that he can be better than them. It’s basically a bite back at those who considered him worthless or a failed designer. This is a sentiment his mother often pushed on him too. 

Finally, when the situation arises for Karl to take sides, he doesn’t bother listening to the actual argument in the room. He’s so taken by Jacques that he ends up sketching him from the day he came to see him for the first time in a provocative outfit. Ultimately, Karl takes Mugler’s side, leaving Pierre shocked. Karl then reveals to him that he knew he’d never give him couture status, so he did what was right. I suppose this is Karl’s realization that he does indeed love Jacques more than couture. He then goes to Monaco with the man to unwind. 

Does Karl get what he wishes for? 

They say true hard work always pays off, and at the end of Becoming Karl Lagerfeld, when he’s on vacation with Jacques to heal their relationship, he gets a call from his assistant back at Chloe. She tells him that the news of his disagreements with Gaby has spread, and he’s already being invited by other designers to get on board. She tells him that she and many other seamstresses are willing to join him on his next journey and asks him to go through the fax she’s about to send. To Karl’s delight, it’s from the Chanel house of haute couture, and he smiles and looks at Jacques from the back. I suppose the ending of the series is a little bit poignant, despite Karl getting what he wanted all his life. Maybe he looks at Jacques the way he does because a new job means more time away from him. What’s worse is that we know Jacques died a few years later, in 1989, at the young age of 38, of AIDS. I guess we’re meant to feel that sadness through those last moments of the series because Karl doesn’t really express his joy about Chanel. Maybe it’s also because the series is so focused on the love story rather than anything else, so that’s where my mind took me. Either way though, I’d say yes, Karl got what he wished for; I mean, he did become the legendary Karl Lagerfeld after all, and with a style all his own. 

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Ruchika Bhat
Ruchika Bhat
When not tending to her fashion small business, Ruchika or Ru spends the rest of her time enjoying some cinema and TV all by herself. She's got a penchant for all things Korean and lives in drama world for the most part.

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