Karl, the Cat and Jacques de Bascher
The fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld — wizard, shape-shifter, and, as he put it himself, vampire — died in February, leaving a fortune to his gorgeous pet, Choupette, the most famous cat on Instagram.
Lagerfeld showed all the signs of being a kind of ultra-Uranian from the top of his super-white hair (kept that why by the application of Klorane dry shampoo) to the soles of his pointy boots.
“I was born to live alone. Who cares?” — KL
Indeed, it would not surprise me if if he had Uranus Rising, but we shall never know. For years, he lied about his birthday. Sometimes he’d say 1938 or 1935, but his birth certificate shows 10 September 1933.
His self-presentation showed that Uranian love of a complete change, and that Uranian fixity. His last look — white hair, big sunglasses, high white collar, skinny jeans and biker’s gloves — was one he started sporting after losing 46kg in the early noughties. Indeed, if you add Choupette, he was pretty much dressing as a Bond villain during his time in the 21st century. But for about 20 years before that, he was a chunky guy with a ponytail, carrying a man-fan, and before that he was buff, beach-ready and bearded. Each look was totemic, extravagant, a little bizarre, a little outré.
Karl Lagerfeld’s Uranus was in Aries — at 26° and a bit, right opposite to his Venus, in fashion-sign Libra. So it’s no wonder that he was both a fashion pioneer, and someone who made plenty of enemies in the fashion world. He had a life-long, unfriendly rivalry with Yves St Laurent, whom he’d known since school, and PETA, the anti-fur charity called him a “nemesis”.
His rivalry with St Laurent came to a head in 1973, when Yves stole Lagerfeld’s boyfriend, the aristo-playboy Jacques de Bascher for a while. That was the year of Karl Lagerfeld’s Uranus half-Return, when the planet of shocks was on his Venus. Jacques returned to Karl and lived with him until his death in 1989. Lagerfeld always maintained it was a celibate relationship; Jacques was his muse.
In fact, he was unashamed of the way he used muses; dropping all of them except Jacques, after he’s sucked them dry. He called this “vampirising”. You can see that there’s a powerful T-square in his chart running from Pluto the vampire, to Uranus the wizard, to Venus in Libra, fashion herself. Until, the arrival of Choupette in December 2011, Jacques was Karl’s one true love.
On the day Lagerfeld was born, Jupiter changed signs from Virgo to Libra, from craft to art; and the Moon in trine to Jupiter changed signs from Taurus to Gemini, from earth to air.
What Karl Lagerfeld really understood was the potency of branding, like no one had before him. As soon as he took over at Chanel, Lagerfeld pumped up the double CC logo to two, three, 15 times the size it had been. It seemed outrageous. He simply made the logos bigger. Take a look at Lagerfeld sneakers, or Lagerfeld boots. He super-sized the fashion detail: Jupiter in Virgo, perhaps.
“I don’t know what normal means.” — KL
Which brings us to that little stellium in Virgo — Neptune, Mercury and the Sun. His attention to detail, and work ethic were legendary, as was his total understanding of the craft (Virgo) and the cut (see the nifty sextile between Neptune and the blade, Mars). Neptune, of course, brings glamour and vision to wherever he plays in the chart. And before he became the elderly wizard we recognise, Lagerfeld swung with the hedonistic eurotrash. He says he watched but did not partake — much like Andy Warhol. He watched Jacques — Mars-Uranus-Sun-Mercury in Cancer — take on the 1970s. In fact, Jacques’s Saturn is right on Lagerfeld’s Jupiter.
Like Warhol, who hugely influenced his thinking, Lagerfeld understood the power of outrage. His cat-walk shows became famous in the 1990s. And it’s hard to wonder whether Lagerfeld’s adoption of Le Look Karl was not a homage to Warhol’s strange, wizard’s wig. Warhol has Leo Sun partile on the ASC trined by Uranus in Aries.
Karl Lagerfeld’s long, long career — which began in 1954 and ended at his death — is positively Saturnian. And of course, his Saturn is powerfully placed in Aquarius, a sign which the old boy loves. Indeed, his iconic status really kicked in about the same time that most people are getting out the pipe and slippers. He was always fascinated by youth, the new, the trendy — perhaps drawn by that North Node in Aquarius, as well as Uranus in youthful Aries.
“People who say that yesterday was better than today are ultimately devaluing their own existence,” he once said.
This was married to an encyclopaedic knowledge of design, history and culture. Like anyone with a Virgo stellium ought to be, he was a voracious reader, and inquisitive to a fault. Saturn in Aquarius would have helped organise that library in his head.
But what of Choupette, heiress and pussy cat? Born on August 15, 2011. What was her mesmerising appeal? Well, her Neptune is directly on Lagerfeld’s North Node. And her showy Leo stellium — Venus-Sun-Mercury — makes a lovely sextile to his Venus.
Clearly, he was lucky to have her in his last years to help ring him out on his Uranus Return.
This article was originally published in the latest issue of The Astrological Journal.