Jacques de Bascher was Karl Lagerfeld’s long-time boyfriend. De Bascher died from AIDS in 1989. On February 19, Paris Match was the first to report that Lagerfeld had died at the age of 85. A statement from French fashion conglomerate LVMH said that Lagerfeld was a “creative genius” to whom “we owe a lot.”s
Lagerfeld dated de Bascher for 18 years. The couple met when de Bascher was 22 years old. When de Bascher became ill with HIV, Lagerfeld remained by his side and had a cot set up in his boyfriend’s hospital room in the Raymond Poincaré University Hospital in Garches, until his partner passed away at the age of 38. De Bascher was born in 1951 in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. His father had been a former governor in the then-French controlled state.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. De Bascher Is Buried Alongside Lagerfeld’s Mother
In a 2008 New York Times feature, it is written that de Bascher is buried alongside Lagerfeld’s mother, Elizabeth Bahlmann. They are buried at a small chapel in the town of Grand Champ in the northwestern French district of Brittany. Lagerfeld owned a country home in the area, which he bought in the 1970s. The Times reported that following the death of his mother and de Bascher, Lagerfeld ceased to visit the area and sold his home there in 2000.
According to LCI, Lagerfeld named his home in Hamburg, Germany, “Villa Jako” in de Bascher’s memory.
2. Lagerfeld & De Bascher ‘Never Consummated Their Relationship’
According to the book, “Jacques de Bascher, Dandy de l’ombre,” Lagerfeld and de Bascher, despite dating for 18 years, the couple “never consummated their relationship,” via Women’s Wear Daily’s review of the 2017 book. Lagerfeld is quoted as saying, “I infinitely loved that boy but I had no physical contact with him. Of course, I was seduced by his physical charm… 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.” In addition to never consummating their relationship, the couple never even shared a home together.
The piece goes on to say that Lagerfeld was known to fund de Bascher’s S&M-themed party, Moratoire Noir(e). The author of the book on de Bascher, Maria Ottavi, told WWD, “If he were alive today, maybe he would be an influencer.” Ottavi also told WWD that for Lagerfeld, “It’s still a very emotional topic for him, and he opened up as perhaps he has never done before. He watched this man, whom he once admired for his style, allure, spirit and innate sense of beauty, take his last breath and absolutely wither. That’s a terrible ordeal, and the fact that he talked about it was a beautiful thing.”
3. During Their Relationship, de Bascher Had an Affair With Yves Saint Laurent
In the book, “Jacques de Bascher, dandy de l’ombre,” it’s detailed that while de Bascher was with Lagerfeld, he had an affair with famed-French designer Yves Saint Laurent. Saint Laurent at the time was in a long-term relationship with Pierre Berge, who was also a business partner with the French style-guru. Berge alleged that Lagerfeld “engineered” a relationship between de Bascher and Saint Laurent as a means to hurt the Yves Saint Laurent brand. Lagerfeld is quoted by WWD as saying of the affair, “Of course I knew about the affair with Saint Laurent. I had been close friends with Yves for more than 20 years.”
That affair was detailed in the book, “The Beautiful Fall,” in 2006. The New York Times reported at the time that Lagerfeld sued that book’s author, Alicia Drake, for an “intrusion into his private life.” A 2014 movie, based on the book, featured French actor Louis Garrel portraying de Bascher.
4. With Regards to Their Relationship, Lagerfeld Said, ‘He Who Has the Money Pays’
Marie Ottavi told Vice in 2017 that de Bascher was known to frequent Parisian gay clubs, where mixed with Lagerfeld, Saint Laurent and Andy Warhol’s entourage. Lagerfeld said of this time, “He who has the money pays.” The Vice article details that shortly after meeting, “Very quickly, Lagerfeld became crazy about him and made him his muse.”
An LCI article on de Bascher, published shortly after Lagerfeld’s death, said that as opposed to the designer’s healthy teetotaling ways, de Bascher was “dependent” on drugs and alcohol.
5. De Bascher Was One of the ‘Cool People’
Lagerfeld told Vice in February 2010 that his “best friend” died after suffering from AIDS. Referring to the time, Lagerfeld said, “I don’t want to go back through that age. In those days it was a hopeless case.” Lagerfeld then echoed Fran Lebowitz’s opinion that “AIDS killed all the cool people.”