Jacques de Bascher called Karl Lagerfeld “Mein Kaiser”

28 Sep

Jacques de Bascher

Since the book The Beautiful Fall and the movie Yves Saint Laurent there’s been an increasing interest in Jacques de Bascher, the man who fuelled the rivalry between former friends Karl Lagerfeld & Yves Saint Laurent by having a love affair with both of them and the reason Karl Lagerfeld suffered from a broken heart for years. Now the movie Saint Laurent has been released (24 September, 2014), I find even more people searching for information on Jacques de Bascher on my blog, so I decided to try to find out more about this mysterious dandy.

It wasn’t an easy task, because not a lot can be found about him, but ……


What has been written about Jacques de Bascher:.

Behind every great designer there is often a nudging muse; an aristocratic aesthete who embodies not only the designer’s ideals but who also simultaneously pushes him towards greatness. This symbiotic relationship is at the heart of many a fairytale story; note Alexander McQueen and Isabella Blow, Yves Saint Laurent and Lou Lou de la Falaise. Jacques de Bascher represents this figure for arguably the most influential and important designer (bar perhaps Yves Saint Laurent) of the last half a century – Kaiser Karl, Karl Lagerfeld of Chanel, Fendi, and world domination.

Jacques was not born into actual French aristocracy, but into an affluent family who had borrowed the title to accompany their wealth. But he certainly dressed the part. For Lagerfeld, Jacques represented the dandy prince of the castle who he had always wanted to be. He came to Paris seeking fame and popularity, and found it first as Lagerfeld’s lover and companion, with a brief interlude as Yves Saint Laurent’s obsession. With his penchant for exquisite suits, and turn of the century details, Jacques made quite a stir in Paris society in the eighties until his untimely death from AIDS in 1989. Even David Hockney immortalized him in one of his famous pencil sketches, which now retail for $60 upwards. A true gentleman icon of the last century and something of a modern-day Dorian Gray, Jacques de Bascher was truly a tragic figure worthy of being remembered.  Oakazine.com

Jacques-de-BascherJacques de Bascher 

In the early 70s, however, Karl Lagerfeld became enamored of Jacques de Bascher, a debauched young nobleman new to the Parisian scene, and began bankrolling his extravagant lifestyle. Bascher intrigued Saint Laurent, too, who saw in him a way to rebel against Pierre Bergé’s tight control and to “exorcise certain of his demons,” Drake (Alicia Drake, the writer of The Beautial Fall) writes. In 1973, Saint Laurent and Bascher began an affair — infuriating Lagerfeld and Bergé, and precipitating the fateful rupture between the two camps. 

For Drake, Bascher personified the “gilt-edged decadence” that defined his intimates’ milieu. Drawing on the link he himself made between “decadence” and “falling” (a link that apparently inspired her book’s title, The Beautiful Fall), she writes: “For Jacques, it was always beauty that justified the fall. Beauty made even the idea of self-destruction … a possibility.” By self-destruction, the author means not only drug addiction but AIDS, from which Bascher died at 38. But despite Drake’s presentation of him as a doomed artiste, his demise comes more as an anticlimax than as a tragedy of genius lost. Having “never carved a statue or painted a picture” or designed an article of clothing, Bascher left behind only a legacy of hatred between two men far more talented than he. The New York Times

Karl Lagerfeld, Jacques de BascherJacques de Bascher (right) & Karl Lagerfeld (middle)

People familiar with Paris fashion folklore readily recognize Pierre Bergé is talking about Saint Laurent’s liaison in the 1970s to the late Parisian dandy, Jacques de Bascher, who also carried on with Saint Laurent’s bitter rival, designer Karl Lagerfeld. 

Bergé makes no effort to disguise his distaste for Bascher. “I had to address that period,” said Bergé. “These letters to Yves couldn’t have been written without saying one, that I love him, and two that there were very difficult moments during our relationship.”  thedailybeast .com

Jacques de Bascher
Jacques de Bascher

Insofar as being a muse can be called a function, he functioned as a muse to Karl Lagerfeld. He (Jacques de Bascher) follows a certain dandyish template that I like — let’s call it the charming satanist– and, according to Agenda Inc. the “notorious Moratoire Noir party organized by Jacques de Bascher which introduced the fashion world – for the first time – to the darker edges of the Parisian suburbs and Mapplethorpian quantities of leather.” 

I did find his pretensions to French aristocracy to be, well, pretensions to French aristocracy.

Like most people in the book, he’s fairly disagreeable but what he lacks in character is mitigated by what he lacked in good intentions. (One can forgive anything except meaning well.) Pictures do him less justice than words, which, in this case, is a good thing.  thegrumpyowl.com

Jacques de Bascher & Kaiser KarlJacques de Bascher & Kaiser Karl

He (Karl Lagerfeld) doesn’t talk about his sexual orientation and maintains that he never had sexual congress with the man he calls the love of his life, the Parisian “It” dandy Jacques de Bascher, who called Lagerfeld “Mein Kaiser” and died of aids in 1989. When Lagerfeld says he “hated the nineties, for some reasons,” it is code for many miserable years suffering with a broken heart, partially expressed by naming his Hellenic-inspired villa in Hamburg “Jako,” an amalgam of their names, and briefly selling a perfume of the same appellation. In fact, De Bascher was the reason Lagerfeld gained weight to begin with. He writes in The Karl Lagerfeld Diet that directly before De Bascher’s death, “I started to lose interest in my appearance, because I knew what was going to happen. I lost interest in myself and trivial matters. I felt old-fashioned in my proper made-to-measure Italian clothes. I started to buy my clothes from Matsuda, Comme des Garçons, and Yohji Yamamoto. I went from small to medium, medium to large, then to extra-large.”   New York Magazine

40298_469045486928_604006928_6238161_832771_nJacques de Basher

Ultimately Pierre Bergé would move out, unable to cope with Yves’s utter self-absorption. As the years went on they both had other interests, other passions, other lovers (most notably Lagerfeld protégé Jacques de Bascher, whose affair with Yves added another dimension to the bitter Lagerfeld/Saint Laurent rivalry).   The Guardian

jacques de bascher by david hockneyJacques de Bascher by David Hockney

This book ( The Beautifal Fall) is about the fashion designers Yves Saint Laurent and Karl Lagerfeld in their heydays in Paris in the 1970s. The city then was awash with wild, glittering young things who spent their nights dancing and schmoozing and stripping off and spraying each other with champagne. There were wild parties with weird installations and vast amounts of drugs. Lagerfeld’s companion Jacques de Bascher de Beaumarchais (yes, the name is fake) loved to titillate his guests. On his parquet sitting-room floor you might find a gynaecologist’s chair, or a posse of firemen, or a Harley Davidson with the wing mirrors pointing upwards and, on each mirror, a pile of cocaine with a straw and a razorblade…  The Telegraph.uk

Jacques de BascherJacques de Bascher and unknown female
Photo’s underneath, I found on Pinterrest (copyright Phillipe Heurrault), lots more can be found on: http://philippeheurtault.fr/
ad7688b36fa130d7a65061c77b7bbf8eYves Saint Laurent & Jacques de Bascher
Pierre Bergé & Jacques de Bascher
Jacques de Bascher & Karl Lagerfeld
Betty Catroux and Jacques de Bascher
Betty Catroux & Jacques de Bascher
Yves Saint Laurent (left) & Jacques de Bascher (looking in the camera)

8 Responses to “Jacques de Bascher called Karl Lagerfeld “Mein Kaiser””

  1. Soul Safari 29 September 2014 at 11:11 #

    very well researched post -beautiful pics- and a dignified portrait of a Parisian legend. Thanks

  2. xy 23 December 2014 at 04:54 #

    Fanscinating…! Thank you!

  3. Reanna Danita 21 May 2016 at 21:43 #

    Somehow i pitied karl, i’ve watched both the movie yves saint laurent and saint laurent, yves and piere will be remain as a soulmate indeed but the sad part when jacques cheated on karl and bad mouthing about him it’s such a low and i kinda disappointed with the both and feel sorry for their partners karl and piere, but shockingly i found jacques as a veeeerrryyyy fine young man and i won’t say the actors in the both movie ugly but the real jacques reeeaaalllyyyyy cute and handsome, no wonder karl have a terrible and long broken heart moment, it says in karl wikipedia that karl and jacques still remain as a lover until jacques’s death……i feel awful somehow…..poor karl, u could says i’m such closed minded person but i really hate cheated person bc i am personally very faithful type to my relationship status, tbh i really kinda want karl have a new love rn and piere can find someone and move on from yves, anyway jacques can be consider as a fuckboy nowadays i guess……

  4. Paradise1 30 May 2020 at 05:32 #

    Reblogged this on The God of Super Freaks .


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