Real-Life Jacques In ‘Becoming Karl Lagerfeld’ Series: How Did Lagerfeld’s Lover Die?


Artists and their complicated, non-conforming, and controversial lives have been a source of inspiration for many films, series, and novels. Becoming Karl Lagerfeld makes us privy to the story of one such genius, but it never focuses on the work he did or the creative process he followed; rather, it puts his relationship with Jacques de Bascher in the limelight. It was not a stereotypical relationship, and back in the day, they became the talk of the town due to their dynamic, their opulent lifestyle, their controversies, and their stylish attire. Jacques was a flight attendant, and he was a socialite of the highest order. He showed up at every party together with Lagerfeld and his company; his social circle made him a famous figure in France. Well, most of the things shown in the series, like Becoming Karl Lagerfeld, actually happened in real life, though the creators have taken certain minor creative liberties to heighten the drama and enhance the entertainment quotient. But saying that, it is essential to point out that the essence of their relationship has been kept intact. 

As shown in the series, Jacques de Bascher had an affair with Saint Laurent for a brief period of time in real life, too. Lagerfeld knew about it, and that’s what caused a rift between him and his competitor, Laurent. However, according to the novel, Kaiser Karl, on which the series is based, the ace designer always blamed Pierre Berge for causing a rift between him and Laurent. Pierre never liked Karl, and he believed Laurent to be a far better designer. Pierre, as shown in the series, blamed Karl and Jacques for ruining Laurent’s life. He blamed them for Laurent getting addicted to drugs and having other terrible vices like sadomasochism because of the company he kept. 

Now, let’s analyze where the relationship between Jacques and Karl went wrong and if what is shown in the series is true to the facts. There were a few scenes in the film that told us about the kind of sensibility Jacques de Bascher had, what he felt about Karl, and why he wasn’t leaving him even when he knew that his mental health was getting affected in the process. Jacques was talking with his sister when she pointed out that Jacques just wanted to be destroyed so that he could find out if Karl will come to save him or not. She told him that he always had the option of leaving Karl, and she didn’t understand why he felt so disabled by the idea of living alone and starting afresh. Now, it was not a hidden fact that Lagerfeld supported his opulent lifestyle (in real life, too), and it can be said that he had grown accustomed to that life of privilege. He roamed around in swanky cars, he had a huge house to himself, he wore expensive clothes, and he had loads of friends with whom he partied on a regular basis.

I believe that Jacques, over a period of time, started to believe that he was a failure and a good for nothing. We saw that the film he made when he was freelancing for Fendi was actually a good film, and everyone liked it. But for some reason, Karl didn’t let it get released, and that was the point from which Jacques started distrusting his own abilities. Why Karl did that was a mystery, but I felt that he wanted Jacques to be dependent on him. Personally speaking, it seemed like Karl was scared that if Jacques became too independent, financially and professionally, he wouldn’t need him. It is true that Karl didn’t have a physical relationship with Jacques, and he didn’t exactly have a problem with him indulging in several affairs, provided he knew that his emotional connection with Jacques wasn’t hampered. We saw that at the end of the series, Jacques told Karl that he wanted to go away from the city. He said that he wanted to escape from all the chaos and be with him. Karl came to Jacques’ party, and he told him that he had arranged a swanky house for him in Monaco. Jacques was livid when he got to know that Karl wouldn’t be coming with him, though he told him that he would keep visiting him. There was so much frustration inside Jacques that, at times, it felt like he would explode. On most days, he cried himself to sleep, and he was clearly in a very bad mental state and probably suffering from severe disorders, too. Jacques didn’t know where his life was leading, but he was very sure about the fact that he wouldn’t be able to leave Karl. He started taking drugs, and his debauched lifestyle didn’t make things any better. 

I don’t think that Jacques lived a happy life, and till the very end, he was not satisfied with anything. I don’t know if Karl not being able to give him time was the main conflict that he suffered from in reality, but the series sure wants us to think like that. Also, the series portrays him as a talented writer and filmmaker, but in reality, he was known for his elite social circle and for his lifestyle. The funniest part was that, just like many of the big influencers of our age, nobody knew what he did in life to sustain himself. And nobody even bothered to know, as long as they were having fun around him. Jacques passed away in 1989, and Karl was by his side till the very end. Nobody could really understand the kind of relationship they shared. Though Jacques was suffering from AIDS, I believe that Karl’s interference and involvement in his life played a crucial role in making his life miserable (at least that’s what I perceived after watching the series). Had Karl left him, he probably would have made something out of his life that actually gave him happiness instead of depending on some other individual for it. 

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Sushrut Gopesh
Sushrut Gopesh
I came to Mumbai to bring characters to life. I like to dwell in the cinematic world and ponder over philosophical thoughts. I believe in the kind of cinema that not necessarily makes you laugh or cry but moves something inside you.

Must Read

DMT Guide

More Like This