With his vampiric collars and black-out shades, the image of Karl Lagerfeld has been etched into pop culture like some kind of ancient rune. Much like Anna Wintour or Donatella Versace, the designer codified the fashion archetype but the caricature has often overshadowed the realities of his own life – which is now the subject of a new Disney+ series, Kaiser Karl.
Set to launch later this year, the six-parter will chronicle the designer’s career at the coalface of Chanel and Fendi while exploring his rivalry with Yves Saint Laurent and his relationship with Jacques de Bascher. The latest in a breathless slate of Hollywood biopics – among them Elvis, Marilyn Monroe, Priscilla Presley, Bob Dylan, Jeffrey Dahmer, Whitney Houston, Freddie Mercury, Elton John, Bob Marley, Amy Winehouse, Princess Diana, Kate Moss, and Anna Delvey – the project dovetails with the release of a William Middleton-penned biography Paradise Now, an upcoming exhibition at the Costume Institute and a Jared Leto-produced film… starring Jared Leto.
Directed by Jérôme Salle, the Disney+ production is currently being filmed in France, Monaco, and Italy and will star Daniel Brühl as the lead. For now, the exact storyline remains confidential but promises to portray “the epic partying and decadence” that marked Lagerfeld’s life alongside his “love affairs and friendships” with Marlene Dietrich (played by Sunnyi Melles), Paloma Picasso (Jeanne Damas), Loulou de la Falaise (Claire Laffut), and Andy Warhol (Paul Spera). The project is also said to feature more than 2,200 extras, over 40 different sets and some 3,000 costumes, 160 of which will be created from scratch – so stay tuned for more.