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Patrick Demarchelier, Prolific Photographer, Has Died

The French image-maker, best known for creating celebrity imagery with a high-fashion touch, was 78.
Photographer Patrick Demarchelier has died, aged 78.
Photographer Patrick Demarchelier has died, aged 78. (Getty Images)

French photographer Patrick Demarchelier, best known for creating celebrity imagery with a high-fashion touch, has died at 78, according to a post on his Instagram account.

His black-and-white portraits of celebrities from Leonardo DiCaprio to Kate Moss remain heavily referenced decades after they were taken. But Demarchelier’s most famous images were those of Princess Diana, whom he first photographed in 1989. (He was the first non-British photographer to be asked to capture Britain’s royal family).

He also helped to define the look of Harper’s Bazaar in the 1990s under legendary editor Liz Tilberis. His photograph of supermodel Linda Evangelista for the September 1992 issue, “Enter the Era of Elegance,” remains one of the most striking and memorable covers in the history of magazines.

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Born in 1943 near Paris and raised in Le Havre, Normandy, Demarchelier began taking photos as a teenager. By 1975, when he was in his early 30s, he had moved to New York, and begun shooting magazine covers and advertising campaigns, with clients as wide ranging as Gap and Chanel. Though he was French, Demarchelier predominantly worked in America for American magazines. While his photographs had a sophisticated European style, their soft edges were appealing to US customers.

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“Patrick takes simple photographs perfectly, which is of course immensely difficult,” his longtime collaborator, Anna Wintour, Condé Nast worldwide chief content officer and American Vogue editor-in-chief, said in a September 2015 text for auction house Christie’s. “Working without ornate settings, often in black-and-white, he makes attractive women look beautiful and beautiful women seem real.”

Over the years, Demarchelier became one of the most visible representatives of the fashion industry, making an appearance in 2008′s “Sex and the City” movie and serving as a guest judge on “America’s Next Top Model,” hosted by Tyra Banks.

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In 2018, Demarchelier’s position in the fashion industry was upended after the Boston Globe published multiple reports of unwanted sexual advances he had allegedly made toward models over the course of his career. Demarchelier told the Globe the allegations were “impossible” and that “people lie and they tell stories.” But after the publication of the report, longtime clients like Condé Nast stopped working with him.

Demarchelier is survived by his wife and three children. His son, Victor Demarchelier, is also a photographer.

Stay tuned to BoF for updates to this developing story.

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