How Karl Lagerfeld latched onto eccentric Andy Warhol and fell in love with a promiscuous playboy

Karl Lagerfeld became a global icon as the creative director for Chanel and although he surrounded himself with beautiful models, famous artists and a promiscuous playboy, he was ultimately a voyeur who wasn’t interested in drugs or sex, a new book about his life reveals. 

‘Lagerfeld himself relished the sensuality of men but sex did not interest him. He never f**ks’, author Raphaëlle Bacqué writes in his book Kaiser Karl: The Life of Karl Lagerfeld

Lagerfeld, who died last year on February 19, was born in Hamburg, Germany on September 10, 1933, to a father who imported foodstuffs and a housewife mother.

However, his delusions of grandeur led him to consistently change and embellish stories about his background. Arriving in Paris in 1953, he reinvented himself from his middle-class upbringing and redesigned his life.

Describing his father as Swedish, Lagerfeld wanted people to believe he was from German aristocracy and carried himself with an air of snobbery. 

With his new identity in tow, Lagerfeld dined and danced at the chicest French gay clubs in the late 1960s when sexual freedom flourished, but he was never known to do drugs, drink or even have sex.  

Karl Lagerfeld (pictured in 1979) became a global icon as creative director for Chanel, and although the designer surrounded himself with beautiful models, famous artists and a raucous playboy, he was ultimately a voyeur who wasn't interested in drugs or sex, a new book about his life reveals

Karl Lagerfeld (pictured in 1979) became a global icon as creative director for Chanel, and although the designer surrounded himself with beautiful models, famous artists and a raucous playboy, he was ultimately a voyeur who wasn't interested in drugs or sex, a new book about his life reveals

Karl Lagerfeld (pictured in 1979) became a global icon as creative director for Chanel, and although the designer surrounded himself with beautiful models, famous artists and a raucous playboy, he was ultimately a voyeur who wasn’t interested in drugs or sex, a new book about his life reveals

When 38-year-old Lagerfeld met 21-year-old playboy Jacques 'Jako' de Bascher de Beaumarchais (pictured together in 1979) in the early 1970s, he fell 'profoundly and absolutely' in love, Bacqué writes. 'No one had ever witnessed him so infatuated with another person'

When 38-year-old Lagerfeld met 21-year-old playboy Jacques 'Jako' de Bascher de Beaumarchais (pictured together in 1979) in the early 1970s, he fell 'profoundly and absolutely' in love, Bacqué writes. 'No one had ever witnessed him so infatuated with another person'

When 38-year-old Lagerfeld met 21-year-old playboy Jacques ‘Jako’ de Bascher de Beaumarchais (pictured together in 1979) in the early 1970s, he fell ‘profoundly and absolutely’ in love, Bacqué writes. ‘No one had ever witnessed him so infatuated with another person’

When Andy Warhol (pictured in Paris in 1985) arrived in Paris in 1970 looking for inspiration for his new project, L'Amour, he wanted Lagerfeld in his film. Lagerfeld's association with Warhol created an aura of being an aristocrat of the underworld, on the brink of the craziest adventures and parties, which Lagerfeld loved

When Andy Warhol (pictured in Paris in 1985) arrived in Paris in 1970 looking for inspiration for his new project, L'Amour, he wanted Lagerfeld in his film. Lagerfeld's association with Warhol created an aura of being an aristocrat of the underworld, on the brink of the craziest adventures and parties, which Lagerfeld loved

When Andy Warhol (pictured in Paris in 1985) arrived in Paris in 1970 looking for inspiration for his new project, L’Amour, he wanted Lagerfeld in his film. Lagerfeld’s association with Warhol created an aura of being an aristocrat of the underworld, on the brink of the craziest adventures and parties, which Lagerfeld loved

'Lagerfeld himself relished the sensuality of men but sex did not interest him. He never f**ks', author Raphaëlle Bacqué writes in his book Kaiser Karl: The Life of Karl Lagerfeld

'Lagerfeld himself relished the sensuality of men but sex did not interest him. He never f**ks', author Raphaëlle Bacqué writes in his book Kaiser Karl: The Life of Karl Lagerfeld

‘Lagerfeld himself relished the sensuality of men but sex did not interest him. He never f**ks’, author Raphaëlle Bacqué writes in his book Kaiser Karl: The Life of Karl Lagerfeld 

Bacqué writes: ‘He never allowed so much as a squeeze of the arm, and certainly never any expression of emotion. Temperamentally, he was cold, distant and secretive.’ 

But when 38-year-old Lagerfeld met 21-year-old playboy Jacques ‘Jako’ de Bascher de Beaumarchais in the early 1970s, he fell ‘profoundly and absolutely’ in love, Bacqué writes.

‘No one had ever witnessed him so infatuated with another person,’ the author added. 

Jacques had sought out Lagerfeld and the designer fell madly in love, quickly making him his gigolo – which was just what Jacques was after. 

Well-educated, handsome and stylish, Jacques ‘collected lovers, broke hearts and ruined reputations like a Don Juan – or more accurately, like a courtesan’ — and loved sex, dancing and drugs.

Jacques dreamed of a life of pleasure and leisure, and Lagerfeld paid for everything– a small flat that later became grand houses. He also dressed him, paid for his social life and showered him with luxuries.

‘Jacques was pleased to have found a sponsor, a protector and a lover… who wasn’t one’, and the two made a ‘devilishly elegant couple’.  

When Andy Warhol arrived in Paris in 1970 looking for inspiration for his new project, L’Amour, he ended up meeting Lagerfeld and wanted him in his film.

Lagerfeld’s association with Warhol created an aura of being an aristocrat of the underworld, on the brink of the craziest adventures and parties, which Lagerfeld loved. 

Karl told Jacques he was never to become romantically involved with the French star of haute couture, Yves Saint Laurent, who was Lagerfeld's ultimate rival. But Yves fell in love with Jacques and they became secret lovers, with Yves marking Jacques' butt with the heated seal from his signet ring. Pictured: An 21-year-old Lagerfeld (left) and Yves, 18, (right) in 1954

Karl told Jacques he was never to become romantically involved with the French star of haute couture, Yves Saint Laurent, who was Lagerfeld's ultimate rival. But Yves fell in love with Jacques and they became secret lovers, with Yves marking Jacques' butt with the heated seal from his signet ring. Pictured: An 21-year-old Lagerfeld (left) and Yves, 18, (right) in 1954

Karl told Jacques he was never to become romantically involved with the French star of haute couture, Yves Saint Laurent, who was Lagerfeld’s ultimate rival. But Yves fell in love with Jacques and they became secret lovers, with Yves marking Jacques’ butt with the heated seal from his signet ring. Pictured: An 21-year-old Lagerfeld (left) and Yves, 18, (right) in 1954

Jacques in 1974

Jacques in 1974

Now in the company of Jacques (pictured with Lagerfeld in 1979) and his heavy cocaine use, Yves started using drugs. Karl learned of their affair and hoped drugs would destroy Yves, relishing the idea of the collapse of the designer’s fashion house

Lagerfeld liked Warhol’s sophistication and learned from him how to adopt accessories that would make him instantly recognizable.

He started wearing a monocle, carried and fluttered a large silver fan, grew his hair out and tied it back in a small ponytail.

Warhol told him it didn’t matter if you weren’t admired or laughed at – just as long as you were noticed.

‘Don’t pay attention to what they write about you’, Warhol said. ‘Just measure it in inches’.

Lagerfeld stepped up the staccato of his German accent and was called kaiser. 

A strange pair they were – the Prussian French couturier and the American artist, and they partied together.

Equally an odd match were Lagerfeld and Jacques – a spy from the world of night. 

Jacques partied nightly with a French lady friend, living dangerously on the brink of overdose or scandal.

When he returned home, he was to detail all that he had witnessed to Lagerfeld. 

But the one edict Karl laid down was that the French star of haute couture, Yves Saint Laurent, who partied in the same circles and was Lagerfeld’s ultimate rival, was off limits.  

Lagerfeld was born in Hamburg, Germany on September 10, 1933, to a father who imported foodstuffs and a housewife mother, but his delusions of grandeur led him to consistently change or embellish stories about his background and upbringing

Lagerfeld was born in Hamburg, Germany on September 10, 1933, to a father who imported foodstuffs and a housewife mother, but his delusions of grandeur led him to consistently change or embellish stories about his background and upbringing

Lagerfeld was born in Hamburg, Germany on September 10, 1933, to a father who imported foodstuffs and a housewife mother, but his delusions of grandeur led him to consistently change or embellish stories about his background and upbringing

Lagerfeld (pictured in 1980) broke off from anyone who was still friends with Saint Laurent and became a resident of Monaco, the playground for the wealthy on the French Riviera. He bought an apartment for himself and one for Jacques

Lagerfeld (pictured in 1980) broke off from anyone who was still friends with Saint Laurent and became a resident of Monaco, the playground for the wealthy on the French Riviera. He bought an apartment for himself and one for Jacques

Lagerfeld (pictured in 1980) broke off from anyone who was still friends with Saint Laurent and became a resident of Monaco, the playground for the wealthy on the French Riviera. He bought an apartment for himself and one for Jacques

Lagerfeld made clear that Yves was forbidden fruit for Jacques. 

But Yves fell in love with Jacques and they became secret lovers, with Yves marking Jacques’ butt with the heated seal from his signet ring.

Now in the company of Jacques and his heavy cocaine use, Yves started using drugs.

Karl learned of their affair and hoped drugs would destroy Yves, relishing the idea of the collapse of the designer’s fashion house.

But it never happened and Yves retained his position in the world of fashion until his retirement in 2002.  

Lagerfeld broke off from anyone who was still friends with Saint Laurent and became a resident of Monaco, the playground for the wealthy on the French Riviera.

He bought an apartment for himself and one for Jacques.

But by 1984, Jacques was diagnosed with AIDS, later hospitalized and immobilized by transfusions.

At the hospital in the evening, it was Karl’s turn to report to his ‘Jako’ on what transpired in the outside world.

Karl never stopped loving Jacques who died aged 38 in September 1989, and Lagerfeld’s despair was never so great.

Karl never stopped loving Jacques who died aged 38 in September 1989, and Lagerfeld's despair was never so great

Karl never stopped loving Jacques who died aged 38 in September 1989, and Lagerfeld's despair was never so great

Karl never stopped loving Jacques who died aged 38 in September 1989, and Lagerfeld’s despair was never so great

Karl died of cancer on February 19, 2019, alone. His body had become emaciated which he had tried to cover up with voluminous clothing and he had lost his teeth. He had been living in an apartment on Paris' Left Bank that he shared with his Birman cat, Choupette

Karl died of cancer on February 19, 2019, alone. His body had become emaciated which he had tried to cover up with voluminous clothing and he had lost his teeth. He had been living in an apartment on Paris' Left Bank that he shared with his Birman cat, Choupette

Pictured: Lagerfeld in October 2018 - one of his last public appearances before his death

Pictured: Lagerfeld in October 2018 - one of his last public appearances before his death

Karl died of cancer on February 19, 2019, alone. His body had become emaciated which he had tried to cover up with voluminous clothing and he had lost his teeth. He had been living in an apartment on Paris’ Left Bank that he shared with his Birman cat, Choupette. Pictured: Lagerfeld in October 2018 – one of his last public appearances before his death 

A man who used to never show emotion, who never hugged or caressed, was now seen sobbing over his drawings.

‘With Jacques, he had vicariously enjoyed the kind of life he forbade himself from living.’

Lagerfeld never retired but fulfilled a lifetime contract with both Chanel and Fendi.

Karl died of cancer aged 85 on February 19, 2019, alone. 

His body had become emaciated which he had tried to cover up with voluminous clothing and he had lost his teeth.

He had been living in an apartment on Paris’ Left Bank that he shared with his Birman cat, Choupette who had her own maids, diamond necklaces and Instagram account.

After his death, the New York Times wrote ‘His greatest calling, however, was as the orchestrator of his own myth’.

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