Christian Audigier, the French fashion designer best known for the Von Dutch and Ed Hardy lines, died Friday in Los Angeles. He was 57.
The cause was cancer, said Michele Elyzabeth, Mr. Audigier’s former publicist. Mr. Audigier told TMZ this year that he had received a diagnosis of myelodysplastic syndrome, a type of cancer affecting bone marrow and blood.
Mr. Audigier began working in fashion in France, where he was born. But it was in the United States that he applied his talent for mythmaking and bombast most successfully.
“I was dreaming all my life of America, of the blue jean, of Marlon Brando,” he told GQ in 2009, “and the trucker hat.”
The mesh-backed trucker hat was the totem of Von Dutch, a line Mr. Audigier designed in the early 2000s. After finding success with that company, Mr. Audigier left, and, in 2004, licensed the designs of a once obscure San Francisco tattoo artist named Don Ed Hardy.
Mr. Audigier was an irrepressible marketer of his wares, and Ed Hardy tattoo prints — of skulls, tigers, roses and anything else that might have found a home on a midcentury’s sailor’s midsection — were soon ubiquitous, not only on clothes but on a wide variety of licensed products, including fragrances, air fresheners, wine and vodka.
Under Mr. Audigier, Ed Hardy became a magnet for celebrities, whom he courted relentlessly. (No less a magnet was Mr. Audigier himself; on Friday, the French pop star Johnny Hallyday posted condolences on Twitter.) At its height, Madonna, Michael Jackson, Britney Spears and Paris Hilton wore the line.
The adulation of the public and booming sales (a reported $250 million in 2008) did not always bring the affection of the fashion industry, and Mr. Audigier’s designs were generally kept out of the higher-minded stores. Nevertheless, he elicited amused respect, even from those whose tastes diverged from his own.
“RIP Christian Audigier,” Simon Doonan, who during Mr. Audigier’s reign at Ed Hardy was creative director of Barneys New York, wrote on Instagram. “You will be missed. Diana Vreeland said: ‘A little bad taste is like a nice splash of paprika. No taste is what I’m against.’ ” Barneys never carried the line.
Iconix Brand Group bought the global master license to Ed Hardy from Mr. Audigier’s Nervous Tattoo in 2011. Afterward, Mr. Audigier largely stepped back from design, though Ms. Elyzabeth said he had been considering a return with a new label.
Mr. Audigier was born on May 21, 1958, in Avignon, France. Complete information on survivors was not available, but Ms. Elyzabeth said they included his wife and four children.
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