Patrick Demarchelier is one of the world’s foremost fashion photographers. He has created iconic portraits and photographed covers and campaigns for many influential publications and fashion houses.
Born in 1943, he was raised in the small town of La Havre, near Paris, by his mother. His love of photography began aged 17 when he was given his first camera by his stepfather and began to take pictures. Aged 20 he moved to Paris and began working for a photography lab, printing newspaper photographs. He later became assistant to a photographer who shot film magazine covers, before moving on to work at a finishing school doing test shots and eventually becoming assistant to Hans Feurer, a photographer who worked with Vogue. He has no formal qualifications, instead he claims he has learned from his mistakes: “I learned most by just taking pictures; a lot of pictures. 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.”
He lives in New York with his wife Mia, a former model, with whom he has three children.
- He worked with Grace Coddington during her tenure at British Vogue and has credited her with 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.
- In 1975, having won a reputation as a respected fashion photographer in France, Demarchelier decided to follow his girlfriend to New York, despite not speaking a word of English. He worked as a freelance photographer and assisted the likes of Henry Cartier-Bresson, Terry King and Jacques Guilbert.
- In 1989 he became the personal photographer of Diana, Princess of Wales, who contacted him after seeing one of his photographs on the cover of Vogue. “I remember when she first contacted me. I had done a picture for Vogue in which a model was opening her coat to show a picture of a little, laughing boy tucked into the inside pocket. The boy was, in fact, my son, and Diana, maybe because of her little boys, loved that picture so much that she got in touch. We became friends. She was funny and kind – but fundamentally she was a very simple woman who liked very simple things,” he told the Telegraph in 2008. He was the first ever non-British official photographer to the Royal family.
- In 2005 and 2008 he shot the Pirelli calendar.
- In November 2007, he was honoured as an Officier dans l’ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French minister of culture. The following year his work was the subject of a major retrospective entitled The Cult of Celebrity at Paris’ Petit Palais.
- In October 2011, Demarchelier released the coffee-table book Dior Couture Patrick Demarchelier – a collection of photographs of Dior Couture pieces ranging from the very first collection by Dior himself in 1947 to those from Galliano‘s tenure at the house. Dior Couture is like art – they are the art pieces of a fashion house,” he told us. “Each piece is unique and made by hand. We shot the book in so many different places – New York, London and Paris. I wanted to put couture in interesting situations and set different moods for each picture. That’s why I chose such a wide range of models – the book is made by so many different things; different places, different make-up artists, different models.”
- He has said that his favourite subject to photograph is his dachshund, Puffy. “When people ask me which is your favourite portrait,” he adds, “they expect it to be Diana, or someone famous. But the answer is my dog, Puffy. They think I mean Puff Daddy. No, it is the dog,” he told the Telegraph in 2012.