Patrick Demarchelier, the fashion photographer behind several enduringly iconic images, has died at age 78. “It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Patrick Demarchelier on March 31st 2022,” read a post on his official Instagram on Thursday. “He is survived by his wife Mia, his three sons Gustaf, Arthur, Victor and three grandchildren.” The cause of death remains unknown.
Demarchelier is perhaps best known to the public as the unofficial personal photographer of Princess Diana, whom he met on the very same day of his death in 1986. His pop cultural impact wasn’t limited to the royals; Demarchelier also photographed the cover of Britney Spears’s fourth studio album, 2003’s In the Zone and Janet Jackson’s famous 1993 topless Rolling Stone cover.
But in fashion, Demarchelier had been a household name since the late ‘70s, just a few years after he left Paris behind to join his then-girlfriend in the United States. After cutting his teeth as a freelancer alongside photographers such as the legendary Henri Cartier-Bresson, Demarchelier put his focus wholly on fashion, making a name for himself with high-fashion portraits of celebrities such as Madonna.
All that changed in February of 2018, in the wake of the #MeToo movement. Demarchelier was among a number of then-fashion photography mainstays accused of sexual misconduct in an investigation by The Boston Globe, leading many—including his longtime employer Vogue—to cut ties (Demarchelier denied the accusation). A number of the industry’s notable names were quick to mourn him in the comments of the Instagram announcing his death. “Oh I am so sad to hear this,” renowned hairstylist Sam McKnight, who worked with Demarchelier on his Princess Diana shoots, commented. “I had the BEST TIMES with Patrick, endless incredible iconic photos, wonderful memories, a lifetime of laughter, I have so much to thank him for, there will never be another.” The supermodel Amber Valletta also looked back fondly on her memories with Demarchelier, noting that he was one of the very first photographers she ever worked with.