What almost all the numerous documentaries, articles and books dedicated to Karl Lagerfeld (1933-2019) mention is that there was a before and an after in the prolific and long career of the German couturier: the tipping point s ‘is found embodied by the launch of an inexpensive line for H stores

The next day, the world-famous couturier in the still restricted world of fashion (the one before social networks), particularly since he had, in 1983, literally resurrected the house of Chanel, became a superstar recognized everywhere and by everyone. . His face wearing dark glasses, his powdered ponytail and his high false collars became a logo used over and over again.

At the same time, Lagerfeld was rid of his former friend and lifelong rival, Yves Saint Laurent – ​​who retired from fashion in 2002 – and many pounds thanks to an extreme diet. “He sometimes only ate cabbage, or bananas,” remembers his bodyguard and confidant Sébastien Jondeau, who appears in the Karl Lagerfeld documentary series. Révélation, by Guillaume Perez and Anne-Solen Douguet, broadcast over two evenings, Wednesday January 10 and 17.

Classic route

With Patrick Hourcade, Amanda Harlech, Marie-Louise de Clermont-Tonnerre, close collaborators, or the professor of medicine Clément-Claude Abbou, who treated Karl Lagerfeld at the end of his life, Jondeau is one of those who can also be found in The Mysterious Mr Lagerfeld, by Michael Waldman, broadcast in April 2023 by the BBC and still unpublished in France.

This 90-minute film attempts in a finely intelligent and amusing manner (on occasion bordering on gossip) to resolve, by illuminating it obliquely, the enigma of this character who knew so well how to hide his depth on the surface.

In addition to a fairly long portrait of his cat, Choupette, his guardian and his agent, the English documentary focuses on the problems of Lagerfeld’s financial legacy. The four French sections, more hagiographic, follow a classic biographical path, rich in more or less known archives.

Romantic character

According to the testimonies collected in both, versions diverge as to Lagerfeld’s sexuality, his relationship with Jacques de Bascher, who died in 1989 of AIDS, who was the only love of his life, or even as to to the reason why the man in the ponytail decided to lose the many kilos gained after the death of his companion.

As always, the more we try to unravel it, the more the Lagerfeld mystery thickens. Also, contrary to what Karl Lagerfeld seems to announce. Revelation, should we not expect any on the character who has become romantic and mythical, to the point that a television series is announced by Disney: Kaiser (2024), with Daniel Brühl as Lagerfeld, according to the series of articles and the book Kaiser Karl (Albin Michel, 2019) by our colleague from Le Monde Raphaëlle Bacqué.

But we are delighted that Guillaume Perez and Anne-Solen Douguet have given space to the work and style of Lagerfeld, often absent from documentaries (with the exception of those, remarkable, by Loïc Prigent), questioning in particular Marie Ottavi, author by Karl (Robert Laffont, 2021), a remarkable sum of nearly seven hundred pages.