It is quite late this Thursday night in New York. A few hours ago we learned that Patrick Demarchelier died. Today’s issue was ready but we decided to delay it to Monday, back to the drawing board for Patrick.
The news was announced on Instagram, with a message reading: “It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Patrick Demarchelier… at the age of 78. He is survived by his wife Mia, his three sons Gustaf, Arthur, Victor and three grandchildren.”
Jean-Jacques Naudet asked me to write a few lines. I was not sure about that… Sure I knew Patrick, a little, but there are so many who would be more appropriate to share their memories.
I first met Patrick in Paris in 1988, he was coming back from the Cannes Film Festival on assignment for Paris Match, where he didn’t shoot much… Roger Thérond asked him to shoot something, anything before he would head back to New York. Ford Models was opening in Paris, and I was asked to assist Patrick. And so I went with my assistant, lending him my cameras since he travelled light. Quick shooting at the swimming pool of The Ritz with Eileen and Katie Ford and a bevy of models. The feature was never published.
But, thinking about it, this is not when I really met Patrick. I actually first met him in the pages of PHOTO, the Special New York issue of April 1982, I was 18.
On the cover, Christie Brinkley shot by him, the top billing feature was about his success story in New York, making a million dollars a year. You can see the cover and the pages loosely shot with my iPhone, since I have to admit I have been carrying this issue through countries, continents for exactly forty years, April to April.
Eerie isn’t it?
Even though I felt more close to the feature on Pierre Houlès… Patrick’s cover story and portfolio was stealing the show.
I realize now that when a book , a movie or a song can define you, pages of a magazine can determine your life. I am now living in New York for decades.
I crossed paths with Patrick many times, the Carnegie Hall, his studio in Chelsea, Cipriani downtown… The the last time was at Staley Wise Gallery were he had a show. He asked me what I thought of it, I told him that I thought he was getting better with age. He smiled.
I might be wrong but I think it is Alexey Brodovitch who said that most photographers have only 10 years of creativity in them. Well, Patrick like a Grand Cru French wine kept getting better with age. His best work came later, he was no flash in the pan.
Of course, the allegations of 2018 and the breakup from Conde Nast have to be mentioned, but I will leave it at that, this is not the time and place. And the many who knew him know where they stand.
You will forgive the rambling, which we will blame on a “few” Martinis, I mostly write these lines because of the closest link I had with Patrick, his brother and my dear friend Gérald Dearing who if he was still with us, would have tied me up to a chair until I write (I would have loved for him to proof this jibber jabber…)
I like to think they are together now.
I am pretty sure that Patrick still seduces with his French accent, “à couper au couteau”.
Well, it is even later now in New York, the Empire State building is lit in Black&White, and Paris wakes up or goes to sleep, depending.
Funny how a few pages in a magazine still mean so much after 40 years. April 1982 to April 2022… “La boucle est bouclée” as the Frenchies say.
Au revoir Patrick…. And bonjour to Gérald.