Patrick Demarchelier is one of the world’s foremost fashion photographers. In his career to date he has worked for the most prestigious magazine titles and brands in the industry, gaining the kind of personal celebrity status that has seen him appear in a cameo in the film version of Sex and the City and be referenced in the 2006 film The Devil Wear’s Prada. He is well known for photographing supermodels such as Elle Macpherson, Cindy Crawford and Claudia Schiffer.
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Born on 21 August 1943, he was raised with his four brothers in the northern French town of Le Havre, near Paris. Here his passion for photography was ignited at age 17, when his stepfather gave him his first Eastman Kodak camera. The young Demarchelier quickly learnt how to develop film and retouch negatives, and began taking pictures of his friends and local events.
At the age of 20 he moved to Paris, working for a photographic lab printing newspaper photographs. Later he took a job as assistant to a photographer who shot covers for film magazines, then moving onto a role doing test shots at a finishing school before becoming assistant to Vogue photographer Hans Feurer. With no formal qualifications in photography, Demarchelier has been quoted as saying that he has learnt his trade from his mistakes.
In 1975, and by now with a reputation as a respected fashion photographer in France, Demarchelier followed his girlfriend in a move to New York, despite speaking no English. Here he further honed his photographic skills, working as a freelance photographer and assisting the likes of Henri Cartier-Bresson, Terry King and Jacques Guilbert. New York has been his residence since that time, and he lives there now with his wife Mia and their three children.
Since the late 1970s, Demarchelier’s work has appeared with impressive regularity on the covers of almost every major fashion magazine, notably Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, becoming premier photographer for the latter in 1992. He has also shot for Rolling Stone, Glamour, Life, Newsweek and Elle, to name but a few more. Advertising work has included campaigns for Chanel, Calvin Klein, Giorgio Armani, Gianni Versace, Elizabeth Arden and Lancôme. In both 2005 and 2008 he was awarded the contract to shoot the Pirelli calendar.
Awards and Publications
Honoured in 2007 as an Officier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French minister of culture, Demarchelier also holds the honour of being the first ever non-British official photographer to the Royal family, when he became personal photographer of Diana, Princess of Wales in 1989. Perhaps his best-known photographs are his portrait of Diana, taken with her sons, which helped to establish her as `’the people’s Princess”.
His first book, Patrick Demarchelier: Fashion Photography, was published in 1989 and been followed by publications including FORMS and Dior Couture. In autumn 2015, Christie’s New York presented Patrick Demarchelier: Photographs 1975-2015, a comprehensive selection of 75 Demarchelier’s photographs.