Patrick Demarchelier, fashion photographer, dies at 78

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Patrick Demarchelier, a photographer whose work helped define fashion and celebrity in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, died on Thursday. He was 78 years old.

His death was announced on his Instagram page. The announcement did not specify where he died or specify the cause.

Personal portraitist to Diana, Princess of Wales, and the first non-British to become an official royal photographer, Mr Demarchelier was best known for his work with Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, and he was the subject of a major bidding war between the brilliants. Indeed, he’s become so synonymous with Vogue that his name made an appearance in the 2006 film “The Devil Wears Prada,” of which “Get me Patrick” was a much-quoted line.

“Patrick takes simple photographs perfectly, which of course is extremely difficult,” Vogue editor Anna Wintour wrote in a 2015 essay for an auction of his work by Christie’s. “He makes attractive women look beautiful and beautiful women look real.”

An ability to combine ease and elegance distinguishes his work. Her photographs of Diana often had an unstudied look that crystallized the princess’s informal personality, such as a photo of her taken in 1990 sitting on the floor in a strapless white dress and diamond tiara, hugging her knees. A photograph of Madonna for the cover of Vogue in 1989 captured her in a white swimsuit laughing and looking over her shoulder in a swimming pool as if she had just emerged from a swim.

“I like to get the photos done before people get too embarrassed,” Demarchelier told actor Keira Knightley for Interview magazine. “I like to be spontaneous and take a shot before the subject thinks too much about it.”

Born in 1943 (most sources give the date as August 21), Patrick Demarchelier grew up in Le Havre, France. Without formal training in photography, he began photographing his friends and moved to Paris at age 20, although he made his career in the United States. His work as an assistant to Hans Feurer, a Swiss photographer who worked with Vogue, brought him to the magazine’s attention, and he began his relationship with Vogue even before he joined a girlfriend in New York in 1975. .

He had a long creative partnership with fashion editor Grace Coddington at British and American Vogue. But it was her cover photo of Linda Evangelista for the September 1992 issue of Harper’s Bazaar, one eye hidden by an arm holding the third “A” in “Bazaar,” that heralded the arrival of a new editor. , Liz Tilberis, and a new aesthetic: refined, glamorous and unconstrained.

Mr. Demarchelier’s rise in magazines coincided with the emergence of supermodels and celebrity covers, and he was integral to the creation of both. He recommended Kate Moss to Calvin Klein, caught Cindy Crawford being carried on a surfboard by a dozen cute guys, and in 1992 did the 100th anniversary cover of Vogue, featuring 10 of the biggest names in modeling. – Naomi Campbell, Claudia Schiffer and Christy Turlington among them – in white shirts tied at the waist and jeans, hanging from a ladder like a superb team of house painters during a lunch break.

Like Princess Diana, Madonna was drawn to Mr. Demarchelier’s laid-back approach, and he became one of her favorite photographers. He shot her in a baseball cap and black leather vest, arms crossed and tucked under her armpits, a cigarette dangling from her lips, for her 1990 single “Justify My Love.”

He asked Janet Jackson to pose topless for the cover of Rolling Stone, with an unnamed man’s hands clutching her breasts from behind, in an image that signaled his emergence as an independent musical powerhouse.

With a lock of graying hair, worm-like eyebrows and a wrinkled smile, Mr. Demarchelier was not above using his own Gallic charm – and a patented form of Franglais – to coax a subject into doing his bidding.

“Nobody understands what he’s saying,” Ms. Coddington told The New York Times in 2016. “But he calls models ‘bebe’ and says ‘fabulous’ and ‘diveeeeeene’, and he makes them feel beautiful.”

Beyond magazines, Mr. Demarchelier has worked with brands such as Christian Dior, for which he also produced a book, “Dior: Couture”, in 2011, as well as Ralph Lauren, Chanel and Giorgio Armani. He photographed the Pirelli calendar three times: in 2005 (in Brazil), 2008 (China) and 2014 (for the calendar’s 50th anniversary, in collaboration with photographer Peter Lindbergh and featuring – again – swarms of dummies).

In 2018, as the fashion world grappled with his history of sexual harassment and abuse of power, Mr. Demarchelier was the subject of an article in the Boston Globe in which many models alleged advances unwanted. He denied the charges, but his relationship with Condé Nast ended.

In 2007, the French Ministry of Culture named him an Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters and the Council of Fashion Designers of America awarded him the Founder’s Prize. In 2008, he appeared in the first film “Sex and the City” as himself, photographing Sarah Jessica Parker’s Carrie Bradshaw in wedding dresses for, of course, Vogue. The following year, the Petit Palais in Paris presented a retrospective of his work entitled “The cult of personality”.

He is survived by his wife, Mia; three sons, Gustaf, Arthur and Victor; and three grandchildren.

“I love photographing the positive way of life,” Mr. Demarchelier told The Times in 2016. “I love beauty, the beauty within.”

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