Another great talent has left us. French fashion photographer Patrick Demarchelier (21 August 1943 – 31 March 2022) has passed away today. His imagery helped write the history of 1990s fashion.
Born near Paris in 1943 to a modest family, Demarchelier spent his childhood in Le Havre, Normandy, with his mother and four brothers. His profession was self-taught. For his seventeenth birthday, his stepfather bought him his first camera. Demarchelier learned how to develop film, retouch negatives and began photographing friends and weddings.
In 1975, Demarchelier left Paris for New York City, United States to follow his girlfriend. He discovered fashion photography by working as a freelance photographer learning from, and working with photographers such as Henri Cartier-Bresson, Terry King, and Jacque Guilbert. Since the late 1970s he shot the covers for nearly every major fashion magazine including American, British and Paris Vogue, as well as Harper’s Bazaar.
He also shot international advertising campaigns for Chanel, Celine, Dior, Louis Vuitton, Yves Saint Laurent, Donna Karan, Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, Carolina Herrera, Giorgio Armani, Moschino, Vera Wang, Elizabeth Arden, H&M, Sam Edelman, Zara, Max Azria, Express, Longchamp, Blumarine, Lacoste, Ann Taylor and TAG Heuer.
During his career, Patrick managed to shoot many Hollywood celebrities and even Princess Diana herself. The works of Patrick Demarchelier showed the most famous people of history and the present. Through their natural expressiveness and immediacy they are lifted from their podium of untouchability. Through his individual style he manages to make the intimacy of personalities tangible and also to integrate ambivalent ideas of them. In his photographs he celebrates the beauty of the models without suffocating them in an atmosphere of constructed artificiality. Demarchelier’s works are characterized by their perfection. The suggestion, which is not superimposed by reflexion and calculus is a central element of his works.
In 2007, Christine Albanel, French Minister of Culture, honoured Demarchelier as an Officer in ‘l’ordre des Arts et des Lettres’ (Order of Arts and Literature), the same year that he received the CFDA Founder’s Award in Honor of Eleanor Lambert. Demarchelier also appeared in the film ‘The September Issue’ and can be glimpsed in ‘The Sex & the City’ movie.
Of course, the allegations of 2018 and the breakup from Conde Nast have to be mentioned, but I will leave it at that, this is not the time and place. And the many who knew him know where they stand.
Demarchelier is survived by his wife Mia, his three sons Gustav, Arthur, Victor, and three grandchildren.
Au revoir Patrick…