Series Review: Becoming Karl Lagerfeld

Daniel Bruhl and Theodore Pellerin in Becoming Karl Lagerfeld

Jump to the good stuff: The Story | Some Thoughts | The Final Verdict

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

The Story:

Becoming Karl Lagerfeld is a biographical series about Lagerfeld’s rise in high fashion and his tumultuous relationship with Jacques de Bascher.

The film begins in the spring 1972, when Jacques de Bascher (Théodore Pellerin) first sees Lagerfeld (Daniel Brühl) at a Paris nightclub, then sets out to meet him. The film then cuts to Lagerfeld showing his latest designs for Chloé to its founder, Gaby Aghion (Agnès Jaoui), where we get a sense of his jealousy of designers who venture out on their own and his rivalry with Yves Saint Laurent (Arnaud Valois).

After discovering that Lagerfeld designs ready to wear clothes for many different brands, and because of that, remains anonymous, Jacques de Bascher arranges to meet with Lagerfeld at a dimly lit gay bar. He unabashedly flirts with Lagerfeld, then asks why nobody knows who he is, which gets under his skin.

After his flirtatious evening with Jacques, Lagerfeld meets with Aghion and pitches the idea of becoming the artistic director for Chloé. As the artistic director, Lagerfeld would design for Chloé exclusively. Aghion is interested.

Lagerfeld invites Jacques to Saint Laurent’s anniversary show, introduces Jacques to Saint Laurent, and the drama begins.

Some Thoughts:

Becoming Karl Lagerfeld is highly stylized, well-acted, and beautifully shot. It captures the look and feel of the 1970s, and every episode ends with enough intrigue to hook you into the next.

Even if you know nothing about fashion, there’s enough powerplays, drama, and titillation to hold your interest. Despite some of its tawdry moments, the love triangle between Saint Laurent, Lagerfeld, and de Bascher plays out like a drama instead of a soapy mess. And as the conniving dandy, de Bascher, Pellerin shines. He gives him enough humanity to make him relatable.

Although the connection Lagerfeld has with de Bascher isn’t sexual, it is ever present. There’s something about de Bascher that he can’t shake, and his devotion to him often feels as if it could be his undoing. And despite knowing how the story plays out, it still keeps the viewer glued to the screen.

Becoming Karl Lagerfeld also shows fashion as a business. Lagerfeld is seen as a sharp businessman who is sick of playing second fiddle and risks everything to rise to the top. He knows the rules, the players, and the stakes, which makes for some exciting television.

There are also some wonderful side stories, like Lagerfeld’s relationship with his mother and de Bascher’s with his family, that give a better sense of who these two men are.

Although Becoming Karl Lagerfeld does a great job depicting the seventies, it suffers from the sharpness of modern photography. A grainier look would have given the visuals a more authentic 1970s feel.

The Final Verdict:

Becoming Karl Lagerfeld has enough drama to entertain anybody, regardless of their interest in fashion. It’s visually stunning, has a fantastic cast, and a compelling story.

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