Hazine

01.11.2015 - Katherine Koniecki

Photographer

Patrick Demarchelier

“PEOPLE NEED TO DREAM IN LIFE”, A NECESSITY ATTESTED BY THE GREAT IMAGE MAKER PATRICK DEMARCHELIER. AS THE GATEKEEPER BETWEEN FANTASY AND COUTURE HIS PHOTOGRAPHS HAVE BECOME AN ICONIC REFERENCE POINT FOR THE MASTERY OF MAGIC AND LIGHT.

Stark contrasts and prominent silhouettes have infiltrated Patrick Demarchelier’s photographs since his introduction to fashion photography. Often noted alongside former greats such as Henri Cartier-Bresson and Irving Penn, Patrick Demarchelier has made a point of creating his own unique language that permeates his photos of royalty and high fashion. He has a way of intertwining honesty and fantasy, an extension of persistent beauty throughout his celebrated thirty year reign.

Normandy to New York

He was born in the north of France in 1943 and fell into photography when his stepfather gave him his first Eastman Kodak camera for his seventeenth birthday. At 20 he moved to Paris to pursue his new found commitment to photography. It was tough to find a job and so he settled on taking passport photos as a first step into the business and would spend his down time walking in and out of the shops on Les Champs Elysees and Le Grand Boulevard. Fashion photography didn’t exist as a realm of its own for Demarchelier until one chance spotting that led him to a modeling school where he got booked to photograph models-in-training. His wide-eyed first look into the fashion industry was enough for him to head to New York City and start out his career from scratch. Soon after setting up his studio in New York he began to forge strong relationships with editors such as Vogue’s Grace Coddington who gave him his first big break. His namesake style took shape among the editorial pages in some of the industry’s top publications and aside from fashion spreads; stars such as Marlene Dietrich and Madonna have captured his lens. 1989 was a vital mark on Demarchelier’s career who was called in by the Royal Family to photograph the late Princess Diana, a personal request which merited his highly polished style to recast her public image.

Modes of Dreaming

Demarchelier's mode of working has always been established by his report with his subjects. He works fast and spontaneously and brings mystery into the game as a common undertone to his images. In dreaming comes honesty, and this facet of his work is perhaps the most lucrative of all. In prompting his subject to express themselves he never over directs them and believes that a true expression can only arise in a comfortable environment. His relaxed French cool and sensitivity most always infuse his production sets from St. Petersburg to St. Barths, the latter where he and his family also have a home. Demarchelier's has often been described by his collaborators as a greatly generous and warm spirit. The sincerity that drives the intricacy of his images often comes from the closeness he shares with his family. His son, Victor Demarchelier, has become a successful photographer in his own right and one of his earliest memories as a child was climbing onto a model's lap as directed by his father for a British Vogue shoot in St. Barths, a striking image which later made the cover resulted. The dreamscapes imagined by Patrick Demarchelier are equally enticed by his great care of composition. A timeless classicism infiltrates his images though he is also inclined to shoot couture on the outskirts of Paris where rough urban terrain augments the graphic lines of his frame. The intricately designated silhouettes within his images have become characters in themselves and his foray into shooting couture extends from his belief that these exquisite handmade pieces are the products of people's dreams.

Dior and Demarchelier

In a similar array of an artist who has a muse, Demarchelier has Dior. The silhouette could have been the exact pivot point by which he forged a uniquely close relationship with the couture label. Christian Dior himself was a fanatic for form and so his classicism mixed with curved intricacy found a partnership in Demarchelier’s photographic frame. In 2011 He released a book with over one hundred Dior dresses titled, “Dior Couture.” The photographs trace the lines of the couturier’s silhouette evolution from, “The New Look” to the curved succession of the house reigns under John Galliano and Raf Simons. Demarchelier’s own style of shooting progressed along with the house’s 2012 Creative Director and his longstanding relationship with Raf Simons took him to Japan to document the Dior exhibition titled, “Esprit Dior”, which opened in Tokyo in June of 2015. Many of the dresses he photographed for the book have been pulled from the archive, some of which date back to the 40s and are the originals created by Christian Dior himself. A contemporary and hauntingly beautiful mood evokes the timeless while keeping mystery tucked between the pages. With a great image maker such as Patrick Demarchelier, honesty must balance spontaneity as in a moment’s choice to pull the models out into the garden directly after the Dior Couture show outside of Musée Rodin in Paris. He plucked the girls directly off the runway and a twenty minute shoot produced a stunning editorial spread which he titled, “Park Frolic.” At a single moment’s notice he locks beauty in and it is the magic of Patrick Demarchelier’s images that can pull a dreamscape out of many waking moments.

Short Facts

Trademark

His classic black and white portraits mixed with an ability to reinvent a form or silhouette. His lighting techniques create a mysterious mood and his dreamlike compositions have become instantly recognizable. 

Distinctiveness

Patrick Demarchelier is known for his natural ability to pull an expression out of his subject. He is distinct in subtlety and his aesthetic frame combined with his relaxed cool leads every one of his images with a striking ambiance. 

Anecdote

His use of American English and French has become a distinctly endearing trait and he has become famous for mixing both languages when he speaks. His production crews have been known to ask new staff, “Do you speak Patrick?” before they are brought on set.  

 

Chanel N°5 Christmas Edition 2015 shot by Patrick Demarchelier

TIMELINE

1943 – Born

Patrick Demarchelier is born near Paris and spends time in his childhood with his mother and two brothers in Le Havre, Normandy.

1960 – First Shots

He receives his first Eastman Kodak camera on his 17th birthday and so begins his foray into photography.

1963 – Paris

He moves to Paris to pursue photography professionally. 

1975 – New York

He begins to work for notable magazines in New York and forges new relationship with the industry’s editors.

1989 – Royal

He becomes the first non-British photographer invited to photograph the British Royal Family. His iconic black and white portrait of Diana appears in Vogue. He publishes his first book titled, “Patrick Demarchelier Photography” in the same year. 

1992 – Vogue

He strikes up a twelve year relationship with Vogue and it was the notable Grace Coddington who gave him his first big break.

2005 – Pirelli

He photographs the Pirelli calendar and again in 2008.

2008 – Le Petit Palais

Paris’ prestigious Le Petit Palais gives Patrick Demarchelier free reign to show his images in a coveted retrospective. 

2010 – Park Frolic

Demarchelier pulls the girls from the runway after the Dior Couture show at Musée Rodin and sets an impromptu twenty minute photo shoot which was later published as an editorial spread titled, “Park Frolic.”

2011 – Dior

After documenting over 100 Dior gowns in various settings, he releases a coffee table book titled, “Dior Couture.”

2013 – Double Take

Raf Simons uses Patrick Demarchelier’s backstage photos as a backdrop to his Dior Couture AW13 show.

2014 – Tokyo

This year sees a significant milestone for Demarchelier and the house of Dior with an exhibition in Tokyo titled, “Esprit Dior.” The opening also celebrates his second book titled, “Dior New Couture.” The publication follows significant lifelines of the house and features some of Christian Dior’s original dresses from 1947.  

2015 – Spring 2016

Christie’s auction house puts on a special exhibition to honour Patrick Demarchelier as a preview to celebrate the Spring/Summer 2016 shows during New York Fashion Week.

Photo:

© GettyImages

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