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PARIS — Gauthier Gallet, a rising talent in photography and one of the most beloved characters on the Paris fashion scene, died in the hospital here Friday of severe head injuries following a scooter crash earlier in the week. He was 31.
As police have not concluded their investigation into the single-vehicle accident, funeral services have only tentatively been set for Thursday. But the outpouring of grief was immediate and the Paris fashion community quickly rallied to establish a memorial fund to aid Gallet’s young family. He is survived by his wife, Benedicte, and two daughters, Louise, 2, and Camille, seven months.
An affable young man whose politeness and grace stood out among the often-gruff paparazzi, Gallet earned the respect and affection of designers and editors alike, who praised his professionalism and gentle nature.
“He was adopted by everyone in the fashion world, and everyone felt close to him, and it is for these reasons that everyone is so incredibly sad,” said designer Hedi Slimane. “Everyone accepted him because he was never intrusive, very discreet and such a nice person. He had a lot of elegance in his manner, in the way he carried himself, and he made everyone around him feel comfortable.”
“He was popular with everyone,” added Karl Lagerfeld. “In my photo studio on Friday, everyone was in tears. He was right for the job because he could get closer to his subjects than other people.”
Indeed, Gallet was one of the few photographers fashion houses would allow to remain backstage even during their fashion shows.
“He always got the best picture in the nicest way: with a smile and a thank you,” said Ed Filipowski, president of public relations and production firm KCD. “He was a true gentleman in the tradition of [The New York Times’] Bill Cunningham.”
Gallet’s start in the industry was modest, filing pictures at the Paris photo agency Sygma. He got his first break taking pictures for the French fashion magazine L’Officiel, and he quickly became one of the busiest freelancers in Paris. Elle, Numero and Self Service were among the magazines to regularly showcase his work.
Babeth Djian, editor in chief of Numero, for whom Gallet shot the magazine’s people pages, praised Gallet for his “humanity.” She described his photographs as “full of poetry.”
“He brought a new perspective to the industry. He is irreplaceable,” she said.
“He was a perfectionist,” said Madé, Gallet’s agent, who only uses a single name. “He had this incredible access to the fashion world because he respected everyone and, in turn, he was respected by everyone. Over the last couple of years his photographs had evolved incredibly. Requests were starting to come in from magazines like French Elle and Wad for fashion editorial. But more than that, he was one of the most elegant, most loveable people I’ve ever known.”