Patrick Demarchelier, the legendary photographer known for such iconic images of some of the world’s most famous women including Princess Diana, Beyoncé, Madonna and Jennifer Lopez, died 31 March at the age of 78.
Demarchelier’s representatives announced his death via Instagram.
He is survived by his wife, Mia; his three sons, Gustaf, Arthur and Victor; and three grandchildren.
Perhaps best known as Princess Diana’s personal photographer, Demarchelier was the first non-Briton to hold such position within the royal family. It was during this time that he made one of the most famous images of the Princess of Wales, a black-and-white portrait of a naturalistic, smiling Lady Di in a tiara.
Born in Le Havre, France, in 1943, Demarchelier obtained his first camera as a gift from his stepfather at age 17. Three years later, he moved to Paris, and he worked with acclaimed Swiss fashion photographer Hans Feurer and street photography pioneer Henri Cartier-Bresson.
“I have no formal qualifications, just the school of life. I learned most by just taking pictures; a lot of pictures,” he said in 2003, according to a profile by Vogue. “I’ve made plenty of mistakes, but it’s often from your mistakes that you learn most. Being a photographer is like being an athlete. You must practice every day.”
Demarchelier established himself as a fashion photographer, working for such publications as American Vogue, moving to New York City in 1975. Named lead photographer at Harper’s Bazaar, he also worked with Vogue, ushering in the age of the supermodel beginning in the late 1980s.
Nearly every major fashion house commissioned Demarchelier’s work, including Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, Carolina Herrera and Calvin Klein in the United States as well as Dior, Louis Vuitton, Yves Saint Laurent and Chanel in Europe. He credited Grace Coddington of British Vogue with helping to launch his career. “It was the best magazine in the world, the one you really wanted to work for, so to be with her was a big breakthrough,” he told the Telegraph in 2012.
The #MeToo era, which saw allegations of sexual harassment, assault and abuse come to light against a wide range of high-profile men in Hollywood, would also tarnish Demarchelier’s reputation. In 2018, he was among several high-profile fashion figures implicated in an investigation by the Boston Globe, which reported that seven people, including several models and a former assistant, had anonymously accused him of misconduct. The allegations prompted various publications — including Condé Nast, parent company of Vogue — to cut ties with him.
Demarchelier denied the allegations, telling the newspaper that “people lie and they tell stories,” and that he had “never, never, never” inappropriately touched a model.
Vogue, in obituary on its website, noted the photographer’s “rich and deep legacy” and skill at “balancing elegance and natural ease” in his work.
Celebrity tributes appeared following news of his death.
“Thanks for so many great memories and beautiful, timeless images,” Crawford posted on Instagram along with many of the famous images he had made.
Model Bella Hadid wrote, “I am grateful to have been lucky enough to be in front of your lens. Most gentle, most legendary, soft but full of life,” she wrote.
Fashion designer Vera Wang posted an image from one of the last photo shoots with Demarchelier. “I will always treasure his talent, his kindness and our long history,” she wrote. “I am saddened to the core.”
Actor Kate Hudson also shared a tribute, “I had the pleasure of being photographed by Patrick often and always enjoyed him and his team so much.”
Staley-Wise Gallery, which represents Demarchelier’s work in New York, described him to CNN as “a brilliant photographer who had an extraordinary sense of classic and elegant style — certainly the best of his generation.” Fahey/Klein Gallery, in Los Angeles, said he “demystified the fashion world and created images that resonate with a natural beauty.”
Demarchelier was once asked to name his favorite portrait subject, to which the photographer identified as his daschund.
“When people ask me which is your favorite portrait, they expect it to be Diana, or someone famous,” Demarchelier reportedly told The Telegraph. “But the answer is my dog, Puffy. They think I mean Puff Daddy. No, it is the dog.”