Karl Lagerfeld's Wishes to Be Cremated without a Ceremony Will be Respected, Brand Says
The designer, who died at the age of 85, wanted his ashes placed with his mother's and late partner's, Jacques de Bascher
Karl Lagerfeld, the longtime creative director of Chanel and Fendi, as well as his own eponymous line, died on Tuesday at the age of 85. Immediately, heartfelt messages of love and adoration poured in from his modeling muses, A-list collaborators and celebrity friends in the industry paying their respects. On Wednesday it was reported that here will be no funeral for the famed fashion designer — which is exactly what he would have wanted.
According to the French news agency, AFP, a spokeswoman from Lagerfeld’s eponymous line, Karl Lagerfeld, told the outlet, “His wishes will be respected.” In interviews he was very open about what he wanted to happen after he died. He wished to have his ashes scattered with those of his mother and late partner, Jacques de Bascher, and also preferred to eschew a ceremony.
Lagerfeld opened up about his final wishes in the 2017 biography Jacques de Bascher, dandy de l’ombre, written by Liberation reporter Marie Ottavi. The book detailed the life of Lagerfeld’s late partner, de Bascher’s, who died of complications of AIDS in 1989 at the age of 38.
In the book, Lagerfeld revealed that he kept the ashes of de Bascher’s and his mother in a place only known to him.
“They are in a place kept secret with those of my mother,” Lagerfeld is quoted in the biography about the location of de Bascher’s final resting place. “One day, we will add mine. But I do not want a burial, nothing. I arrived one day, and one day I will leave. But let it be said, there is no urgency. I am like Madame Porgès, who lived during the Belle Epoque. When she died, people said that she was the only survivor of a world she was not part of. Well, me, that’s it, this world, I was not really part of it […]. ”
In an interview with the French magazine Numéro in April 2018, Lagerfeld reiterated his desire not to have a funeral ceremony.
“How awful,” he remarked when asked what type of service he would like. “There will be no burial. I’d rather die.”
“Since those miserable Hallyday family stories, a funeral at the Madeleine [church] looks like a joke,” he said referencing French rock ‘n’ roll singer Johnny Hallyday’s grand funeral and procession which was attended by hundreds of thousands, including current and former French Presidents. “I’ve asked to be cremated and for my ashes to dispersed with those of my mother… and those of Choupette [his cat], if she dies before me.”
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The author Ottavi tells PEOPLE that Lagerfeld wishes to have his ashes mixed with his mother’s “because he was very close to her.”
The designer and de Bascher were partners for 18 years, but as Lagerfeld openly discussed, were never intimate. “I infinitely loved that boy but I had no physical contact with him,” Lagerfeld said, according to WWD. “Of course, I was seduced by his physical charm.”
Lagerfeld notably said that he would never stop working, telling The New York Times in 2015 that he would “die on the spot.” And just like his predecessor, Gabrielle Chanel who died while working on her next collection, he too worked until the end.
He was absent from taking a bow at the end of his last Paris Haute Couture show in January 2019, but he still designed the collection, and according to WWD, he even gave instruction to his teams at Fendi for its fall ready-to-wear line which is set to show on Thursday.
One way he explained that he could continuously design for three different labels for an unprecedented over 30-year-tenure was because of his “never good enough” attitude.
“I think I’m quite lazy, that I could do better,” he told Numéro. “I am never happy with myself. I have to give myself a kick up the behind to go forward, and the day of the show, backstage, I always say to myself, ‘Well my poor girls, with this we’ll not be doing the next one.’ I get no satisfaction from the job I do. And that is what pushes me to continue, this permanent dissatisfaction and discontentment.”
— Reporting by Peter Mikelbank