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Hulu’s ‘Becoming Karl Lagerfeld’ Is a Strictly Surface-Level Portrait of a Fashion Icon: TV Review

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Alison Herman TV Critic Fashion designers, it seems, come in pairs. At least they do on television: earlier this year, Apple TV+ drama “The New Look” positioned Christian Dior and Coco Chanel as foils in the wake of World War II, contrasting Dior’s forward-looking idealism with the aging Chanel’s history of Nazi collaboration.

This week, a new Hulu miniseries may be titled “Becoming Karl Lagerfeld,” but it develops the now-iconic German craftsman (played by crossover German star Daniel Brühl) as a counterpoint to Yves Saint Laurent (Arnaud Valois), Lagerfeld’s frenemy, rival and fellow legendary clothier.

The show is not the first account of Lagerfeld’s rise to do so. “Becoming Karl Lagerfeld” is adapted from Raphaëlle Bacqué’s “Kaiser Karl,” a posthumous biography released the year after Lagerfeld’s death, at 85, in 2019. (Bacqué is credited as a co-creator of “Becoming Karl Lagerfeld” alongside Isabelle Degeorges and Arnaud de Crémiers.) But the largely French-language series focuses on the 1970s — the same period covered by Alicia Drake’s “The Beautiful Fall,” a true dual portrait of creative genius.

The framing makes sense; the decade marked both Saint Laurent’s and Lagerfeld’s ascent, before his appointment at Chanel in 1983 would cement his place at the top of fashion’s hierarchy.

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