1956 - Michel Haddi is born in Paris. He is the only child of a French soldier who he’s never met, and his mother Halima Haddi, an Algerian woman of Turkish, Moroccan and Berber origin. Michel spends a number of years in a Catholic orphanage, the Sisters of Saint Vincent de Paul in Paris while Halima is employed in a smart Parisian hotel. Hotel guests often leave fashion magazines behind and Halima gives them to Michel. Copies of Vogue Magazine fascinate him; the lives of the rich and the famous fascinate him and the photography… always the photography fascinates him.
Early stages of Career
At the age of 18, Michel has a crush on a photo by Helmut Newton that made the cover of Vogue. At the time, he has two jobs: his first, as a waiter in a very well-known gay restaurant provides the perfect opportunity to see all the stars of the moment when they come to have a drink, and a second, as night watchman at the Hotel des Bains provides plenty of downtime to think about what he really wants to do with his life. His dream is to leave Paris and become a photographer.
1976 - Michel leaves Paris for Saudi Arabia where he works for three months as an electromechanical technician and supplements his income with trafficking of all kinds.
1977 - A chance meeting with Ben Lee, photographer, sees Michel became his assistant and he relocates to London.
1979 - Just two years later, Michel’s fashion shoot of the model-of-the moment Gail Elliot appears in the Daily Mail.
1980 - Michel opens his first studio and meets Victor Herbert, who becomes his mentor. It proves to be a successful meeting and before long, his first photo for American GQ is published; during that same year, his work appears in Jardin des Modes, Dépêche Mode.
1981 - Shoots for Vogue. Commissioned by Alberto Nodolini, the art director of Vogue Italia, to photograph the first in a series of fashion works for Vogue Italy and Vanity Italia.
1985 - Shoots for British Vogue and meets John Hind, the creative director who becomes a life-long friend, and Lucinda Chambers, Beauty Editor.
1985 - Michel meets Franca Sozzani and her team from Italy’s Lei and Per Lui; Sozzani’s only brief? Impress me! And so with artistic freedom in his lap, he produces monthly images for both the magazines to much acclaim.
1986 - Michel lives and works between London, Paris and Milan, and photographs the biggest stars of the day such as Uma Thurman, Johnny Depp and Nicolas Cage…
1989 - Michel leaves Europe for New York and shoots for the best magazines on the East coast: Andy Warhol’s legendary Interview, being one of them. A series of shots of British Super Model Kate Moss are used in Bloomingdale's stores across the US, broadcast on television screens and posted on many shop windows throughout the United States.
1991 onwards - Michel works extensively in England for: The Face, Arena, Vogue, GQ and Tatler amongst others, and then moves into fashion advertising campaigns for luxury brands such as: Lee Cooper, Replay, Givenchy, Guerlain, Armani …
1992 - Settles in Los Angeles where he photographs Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Lopez, Clint Eastwood and David Bowie and many, many others. Wanting to flex his creative muscle in others fields he creates a movie on Susan Bottomly, also known as International Velvet, the muse of the Factory, with Stach de Rola (Balthus’s son) and Barbara Steel (icon of Fellini). It takes the form of a false documentary about a supposed meeting between a journalist (played by Michel) and International Velvet. It tells the story of Susan Bottomly’s life through her own testimony and those of people that have known her.
1996 - Michel returns to New York because the he felt that life in Los Angeles had become “too sanitised and devoid of culture.” Seeking pastures new he journeys to the Equator for Esquire, Morocco for Premiere and Marie Claire, and to the Yemen for Cosmopolitan. At that time, Yemen had seen a civil war and was unsafe for foreign nationals, but Michel’s surname ‘Haddi’ is the name of one of the most influential tribes of the Country, the Haddi, and so Michel and his team were not only safe, but treated with great hospitality.
1998 - Michel is commissioned by Premiere to cover the Cannes film festival. Over 15 days he photographs 135 personalities; the great and the good, He is now part of the world he had been fascinated by as a child in the glossy magazines his mother had brought him, but Paris still calls to him and in 2002, he returns home a different man.
2004 - Commissions with Adriana Karembeu, in Cabo San Luca, Mexico for Stern Magazine, and Emporio Armani in the house of Mies Van Der Rohe, Barcelona follow. He shoots the national football team of France, Champions of the World at the time, for an editorial in L’Uomo Vogue.
2007 - Michel buys a house in Marrakesh for a change of scenery and to get fresh ideas. He develops a line of perfumes, jewellery rings and fabrics.