Such was the legendary status of photographer Patrick Demarchelier in fashion circles that his name was pronounced in a seminal scene in the 2006 film. The devil wears Prada. When Miranda Priestley, the demanding editor-in-chief of a glossy high-fashion magazine (presumably based on Anna Wintour of American Rowing) sends the first directive to his unfortunate assistant and asks a specific question: “Do you have Demarchelier?”
Over a career spanning nearly half a century, Demarchelier has been regarded as a confident producer of phenomenal fashion images, his unmistakable signature on par with his contemporaries Meisel, Lindberg and Elgort.
“I found Patrick incredibly stylish,” said Sarajane Hoare, who has worked regularly with Demarchelier since she was a 28-year-old fashion director at British. Rowing. “He was a silent observer. Never a drama. His lighting was exquisite. He had eyes and ears everywhere. He was intuitive and intelligent. A very cool guy “.
As his reputation grew, he was commissioned by Americans, British and Parisians Rowing, Harper’s Bazaar, She And Marie Claire and also for the covers Life, Charm, News week And Rolling Stone.
He has worked with all the major celebrities including Madonna, Jennifer Lopez, Kate Hudson, Bella Hadid and Beyonce. You have designed memorable advertising campaigns for all the major luxury brands including Chanel, Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, Ralph Lauren, Moschino, Longchamp and Louis Vuitton.
Demarchelier’s most famous relationship – the one that made him synonymous with understated elegance – was with Diana, Princess of Wales. On the cover of British Rowing in 1991 and was internationally applauded as a landmark image.
Similarly Mario Testino captured an insolent Diana Vanity Fair, Demarchelier photographed a real figure in a relaxed way. Confident and often impromptu, his speed was at the heart of his creativity. “Things are going very fast,” Demarchelier told Keira Knightley Interview magazine. “I like to be spontaneous and take the picture before the subject thinks about it too much.” Demarchelier made history as the first non-British photographer to be named photographer of a member of the royal family.
Demarchelier was born near Paris in 1943. With his mother and four brothers, he spent his childhood in Le Havre, Normandy. That all changed on his 17th birthday when his stepfather gave him an Eastman Kodak camera. Completely self-taught, without formal training he began photographing friends and weddings, gradually learning how to frame a shot, develop film and retouch negatives.
He began his career as an assistant to the famous Swiss fashion photographer Hans Feurer. In 1975 Demarchelier left Paris, moved to New York and started a freelance career. It was while she assisted established photographers Jacque Guilbert and Henri Cartier Bresson that she developed her own style of fashion photography.
He was unassuming and low-key and found delight in simple pleasures – one of his favorite activities was enjoying a glass of wine and a bowl of mussels in a small fishing village.
Demarchelier has become synonymous with the top of fashion photography. After The devil wears Pradaappeared in the 2009 American Vogue documentary The September issue working with creative director Grace Coddington. In his book Saving Grace: my fashion archive, Coddington said of him: “Patrick Demarchelier is a consummate professional. A tireless worker with a generous spirit. He never fails to produce a beautiful photograph.
Among the countless shots produced by Demarchelier, his favorite by the British Rowing it was a head and shoulders photo of model Christy Turlington, her face eclipsed by a huge white flowered hat.
For his work in the fashion industry, Demarchelier was awarded the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Order of Arts and Literature), the highest honor from the French Minister of Culture, in 2007.
In February 2018 in the midst of the #MeToo movement, Demarchelier – along with many other fashion photographers – was accused by the models of inappropriate behavior. Although he vehemently denied the allegations, the sprinkling remained. In an immediate response to the allegations, Conde Nast announced that she had severed relations with the photographer. Demarchelier’s career has not recovered.
Patrick Demarchelier, photographer, born on 21 August 1943, died on 31 March 2022