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Who Was Jacques De Bascher? New Details About Karl Lagerfeld's Long-Time Lover

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Who Was Jacques De Bascher? New Details About Karl Lagerfeld's Long-Time Lover

Karl Lagerfeld’s death on Feb. 19 has sent waves throughout the world. The fashion giant best known for reviving Chanel in the 1980's has shaped luxury fashion and also made high fashion more accessible to the masses. Following Lagerfeld’s death, more and more details are coming out about his life. Rather, Lagerfeld was quite open about his life, especially in his later years. He did not seem phased by death — rather, it did not bother him, or seem imminent to him. Following his passing from complications of pancreatic cancer, however, many are revisiting the life of a fashion legend.

Not much is known about what will happen to Lagerfeld and his legacy — that is, his fortune — after his death. Some speculate that his godson Hudson Kroenig will inherit Lagerfeld's estimated $195 million fortune. As Lagerfeld had no children, nor family aside from a sister in the United States he hadn’t seen in years, it makes sense for the money to go to “Uncle Karl’s” young sidekick. Lagerfeld, however, considered his beloved cat Choupette his “heiress.” He said in a 2015 interview, “If something happens to me, the person who will take care of her will not be in misery.” According to Lagerfeld, his cat earned over $3 million for modeling. The dedicated cat owner hired maids to care for her and referred to her as a full-time job — much like a child.

In terms of a funeral, Lagerfeld did not want one: Lagerfeld, known for his blunt, acerbic tongue, once said, “There will be no funeral. I’d rather die!” Instead, Chanel said that Lagerfeld will be cremated. His ashes will likely be scattered with those of his mother and Jacques de Bascher, as reported by the Daily Mail.

Who was Jacques de Bascher? He may have appeared to be the background of Lagerfeld’s life, but had a tremendous effect on the fashion designer.

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1. He was “notorious” in the high fashion scene.

De Bascher is known almost exclusively for his wild nature. He was an ardent consumer of sex, drugs, and alcohol. He was born into aristocracy and briefly pursued a career with Air France as an air steward. The word “dandy” is often associated with de Bascher, who has been compared to Oscar Wilde and called “enfant terrible.”

He also harbored a fantasy to write a book, and was interested in titles and genealogy, along with Lagerfeld.

2. Lagerfeld claims he never slept with de Bascher.

The two met when de Basher was just 19 years old; Lagerfeld was 37 at the time, 18 years older. At that time, Lagerfeld was already working with Fendi and Chloe. The designer quickly became enchanted by the young man. “I infinitely loved that boy,” Lagerfeld told Ottavi, who wrote a biography about de Bascher. “I was seduced by his physical charm.”

In that same vein, however, Lagerfeld said he never had “physical contact with him.”

Regardless, the two were both active in the Parisian sex scene. Lagerfeld may have referred to himself as sexually reticent, but he funded a legendary party thrown by de Bascher, the S & M-themed Moratoire Noir(e) in 1977.

“I’m a total puritan, but I found Jacques’s adventures amusing. We couldn’t be further apart. I am a Calvinist toward myself, and totally indulgent toward others.”

He told Vice in 2010 that he will pay for prostitutes, but will not sleep with those he loves.

“I personally only like high-class escorts. I don’t like sleeping with people I really love. I don’t want to sleep with them because sex cannot last, but affection can last forever. I think this is healthy.”

3. De Bascher had an affair with Yves Saint Laurent.

Alicia Drake first revealed the relationship in her controversial book, The Beautiful Fall: Fashion, Genius and Glorious Excess in 1970s Paris that de Bascher was involved with Lagerfeld’s fashion enemy. Lagerfeld took Drake to court over the book, which became a movie.

According to Ottavi, who Lagerfeld and others opened up for her 2017 book, “De Bascher embarked on a clandestine affair with Saint Laurent, whom he would lock in a closet as part of their BDSM sex games.”

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 #SaintLaurent #JacquesDeBascher #GaspardUlliel #LouisGarrel #RiveGauche

A post shared by Le_dahlia_noir (@le_dahlia_noir) on Dec 22, 2015 at 9:17pm PST

4. And Lagerfeld knew about it.

Pierre Berge, Saint Laurent’s partner, claimed that Lagerfeld used de Bascher to infiltrate Saint Laurent’s camp and effect the downfall of the fashion house. Lagerfeld told Ottavi that he was well aware of de Bascher’s involvement with Saint Laurent.

“Of course I knew about the affair...I had been close friends with Yves for more than 20 years. We used to go out in the early days with Anne-Marie Munoz and Victoire Doutreleau. Pierre smashed that to bits. He said I engineered their liaison to destabilize the house of Saint Laurent.”

5. De Bascher contracted HIV in his 30s, and Lagerfeld stayed with him until his death in 1989.

De Bascher’s wild lifestyle caught up with him in the 80s. When de Bascher ended up in the hospital after contracting AIDs, Lagerfeld slept in a cot next to his bed. After de Bascher died at 38 years old, Lagerfeld organized his funeral mass. In 1990, Lagerfeld purchased a house in his native Hamburg that he named “Jako” after his lover; in 1998, he released a fragrance of the same name.

After de Bascher’s death, Lagerfeld went through a period of weight gain. Then, he told the Telegraph in 2004, “I suddenly wanted to wear clothes designed by Hedi Slimane, who used to work for Saint Laurent and now creates the Dior Homme collections.” Lagerfeld published The Karl Lagerfeld Diet in 2005.

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Alison Cerri is a writer who covers astrology, pop culture and relationship topics.