Gaby Aghion, Agnes Jaoui and Stella McCartney

Nate Bloom blogs on this week's Jews in the News.

Fashion Tales,  Presumed Innocent Re-Make, Eisenberg Likes Poland,

Lagerfeld, an original, 6-episode Hulu series, begins streaming on June 7. The title refers to the series’ central character---Karl Lagerfeld (1935-2015), the famous fashion designer best known as the chief designer for Chanel from 1983 until his death.

Lagerfeld’s first big break came when he was hired (1966) to design for Chloe, a top French luxury fashion house that was founded (1952) by GABY AGHION, a Sephardi Jew (1921-2014). She also co-owned Chloe.  

Aghion was Chloe’s chief designer until she gave Lagerfeld his next big break. She made him Chloe’s top designer in 1974.

The early part of the series covers Karl's years at Chloe. Most of the series covers Lagerfeld being named (1983) the head designer of Chanel (then not doing well) and turning Chanel into a “top house” again.

It's worth noting that Lagerfeld’s German father was a rich Nazi party member-- and Karl made his stellar career working for Jews—Aghion and the WESTHEIMER family, who have long owned both the fashion and perfume parts of the privately-owned Chanel company.

For many years, Lagerfeld put out fictional tales about his father’s “Swedish” background. But eventually the truth came out.

More info: AGNES JAOUI, 59, plays Aghion. She is a highly-respected French actress. Her Jewish parents left Tunisia in 1956 and settled in France. Jaoui also co-starred in the acclaimed film “The Last of the Jews”. It opened in France last year and, last January, it had a very limited American opening. In America, the film was re-titled “A Nice Jewish Boy.”

It’s a comedy/drama about an older French Jewish woman who never goes out and her “nebbish” adult son. He knows that all the other Jews have moved-away from his run-down, mostly Arab, neighborhood. But he keeps this “secret” from his Algeria-born mother.(Now streaming on-demand).

Aghion was the subject of a major Jewish Museum (NYC) exhibit last October. On Oct. 20, the NY Times ran a very good, long article about Aghion and her work. The article said that only two women have been Chloe's head designer and it noted that both are Jewish: Aghion, and STELLA McCARTNEY, now 52. The article correctly said that McCartney identifies as Jewish, but really doesn’t practice (LINDA, her late mother, and Paul McCartney’s wife, was Jewish).

“Presumed Innocent”, an 8-episode mystery series, begins streaming on Apple+ on Wednesday, June 12. The first two episodes will run on the 12th, with the remaining episodes showed on successive Wednesdays.

The series is based on a 1987 best-selling novel written by SCOTT TUROW, now 75. It was previously made into a 1990 film of the same name. It starred HARRISON FORD, now 81, as Rusty Sabich, a (prosecuting) attorney in the District Attorney’s office who becomes suspected of killing a female attorney in the D.A.’s office.

The film, which was directed by the late ALAN J. PAKULA, was a huge hit (cost $20M, made $220M).

JAKE GYLLENHAAL, 43, plays Rusty Sabich in the Apple+ series. Jake’s real-life brother-in-law, Peter Sarsgaard, plays a zealous district attorney who is obsessed with prosecuting Rusty Sabich. Sarsgaard has long been married to actress MAGGIE GYLLENHAAL, 43, Jake’s sister. (As I’ve noted before, Jake and Maggie’s mother is Jewish and they identify as Jewish).

One mystery for me: In the novel, and in the 1990 movie, the very smart lawyer who defends Rusty Sabich is Alejandro “Sandy” Stern. In the novel. he’s described as Jewish and from Argentina. Well, there is no Sandy Stern character in the TV series. My guess is that Stern character  has been replaced in the TV series with a character with a WASP name: Dalton Caldwell.

Actor JESSE EISENBERG, 40, has applied for (dual) Polish citizenship. He recently was interviewed by a Polish publication and pretty soon what he had to say appeared in publications like Variety.

In the interview, Eisenberg said that his roots and the roots of his Jewish wife, ANNA STROUT, are in Poland. He also said that “old” family stories about relations with Polish Catholics were positive. He added that he had written, and directed a film, “A Real Pain”, about two cousins visiting Poland to look for their roots. It was filmed in Poland and will open this October.

Becoming a  Polish citizen, he said, would help Jewish-Polish relations. He added:  “I would love to create better relationships between Jews and Polish people. To me, it’s so unfortunate they are not great. I would love to do that.”


Add Comment