Patrick Demarchelier: fashion photographer dies at 78

In a career that spanned decades, Demarchelier photographed some of the most famous people in the world

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French photographer Patrick Demarchelier has died aged 78, his family have announced.

"It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Patrick Demarchelier on 31 March 2022, at the age of 78,” the Instagram post read. “He is survived by his wife Mia, his three sons Gustaf, Arthur, Victor and three grandchildren.”

Entirely self-taught, he carved a successful career creating elegant portraits and fashion images, shooting many of the world's most famous figures.

'Dior Couture', a coffee table book by Patrick Demarchelier. Photo: Rizzoli

Demarchelier's life and work

Born in 1943 in Le Havre, France, Demarchelier was given his first camera while still a teenager, and blessed with natural flair, he began shooting weddings. At 20 he moved to Paris, where he worked as an assistant to the Swiss photographer Hans Feurer, who introduced Demarchelier to Vogue magazine. It was not long before Demarchelier, too, began contributing to the American version of the magazine.

In 1975 the Frenchman decamped to New York City to focus on building his work with American Vogue, and in 1977 scored his first cover for the title. Over the following years he earned a reputation for crafting elegant images, largely in black and white, and filled with an understated power and beauty.

During the 1980s and '90s, he photographed the world's most famous models, including Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista, Christy Turlington and Helena Christensen, and produced images that helped define the era.

A 'Harper's Bazaar' cover by Patrick Demarchelier, starring Linda Evangelista. Photo: Harper's Bazaar

While shooting for British Vogue in the 1980s, Demarchelier met Grace Coddington, a stylist at the time, and the two forged a creative partnership that continued when Coddington moved to New York to join American Vogue as creative director in 1988.

In 1989, and having seen his work in Vogue, Diana, Princess of Wales invited Demarchelier to become her personal portrait photographer, making him the first non-British creator to take on the role. Along with his contemporaries Peter Lindbergh, Paolo Reversi, Mario Testino, Steven Klein and Steven Meisel, Demarchelier became one of the most in-demand photographers in the world.

In 2007. Demarchelier was made an Officier dans l’ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Ministry of Culture, in recognition of his contribution to the arts, and was given the Founder’s Award by the Council of Fashion Designers of America. Demarchelier worked closely with John Galliano when he was at Christian Dior, creating a book of the designer's couture work for the house.

In 2018, and with a shift of consciousness that spawned the #MeToo movement, Demarchelier was accused of sexual impropriety, which effectively ended his working relationship with Conde Nast.

Updated: April 01, 2022, 9:15 AM