On Tuesday, Disney+ announced its ambitious plans to encapsulate the life of the legendary late designer Karl Lagerfeld in a six-episode drama series titled Kaiser Karl, named after and based on a 2020 biography by the French journalist Raphaëlle Bacqué. Though, the title itself was a nickname famously given to Lagerfeld by W magazine founder John Fairchild. Surprisingly, it’s the first high-profile endeavor to do so since the iconic designer died after a private battle with pancreatic cancer at age 85 in February of 2019, rattling the fashion industry and marking an end to his decades-long, hugely influential tenures at Fendi and Chanel.
Kaiser Karl will start off in 1972, a year after the death of Coco Chanel and at the beginning of Lagerfeld’s climb to the industry’s top. While it wasn’t until the 1980s that he would ascend to the house’s helm, Lagerfeld was determined to reach the highs of his peer Yves Saint Laurent. Drama quickly ensued, thanks largely to Saint Laurent’s partner, Pierre Bergé, who was convinced that Lagerfeld “engineered” Saint Laurent’s affair with Lagerfeld’s then-partner, the French dandy Jacques de Bascher.
According to Deadline, Lagerfeld’s relationship with de Bascher will be “central” to the series’s plot, providing rare insight into the romantic life that Lagerfeld long denied existed throughout his lifetime. While he did acknowledge his 19-year relationship with de Bascher, who died of AIDS in 1989, Lagerfeld made out their relationship to be platonic. “I infinitely loved that boy but I had no physical contact with him,” Lagerfeld once told de Bascher’s biographer, Marie Ottavi. “Of course, I was seduced by his physical charm…”
Lagerfeld was said not to mind de Bascher’s entanglement with Saint Laurent, which does in fact seem believable. His longtime partner was known for his promiscuity and fondness of orgies; Lagerfeld even funded his infamous S&M-themed party, “Moratoire Noir(e).” Seeing as Disney is behind the series, though, don’t expect things to get too graphic.