LOS ANGELES (AP) — Fashion designer Christian Audigier, who was born in France but gained fame and fortune in the United States with his tattoo-inspired, street-wise designs for the Ed Hardy and Von Dutch brands, died Friday. He was 57.
Audigier died at 3:45 a.m. at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, hospital spokeswoman Laura Coverson said.
Audigier had cancer, said his former publicist, Michele Elyzabeth, who first reported the death on her LATF style website.
Besides his colorful designs, the designer was known for his energetic promotion and for friendships with celebrities, including Michael Jackson, Madonna and the French singer Johnny Hallyday.
"My friend forever," Hallyday tweeted on Friday, in French. "I will miss you terribly. I love you."
Audigier was born in Avignon, France, and began working in fashion as early as age 14, Elyzabeth said.
He moved to New York as a young man, where he worked for a number of labels. But it was in Los Angeles where he achieved fame, first as a designer for Von Dutch, and then for the Ed Hardy brand, where Audigier's clothing played off the colorful designs of tattoo artist Don Ed Hardy.
"I believe people are going to go to street wear more than couture wear," Audigier said when presenting his Ed Hardy line at Los Angeles Fashion Week in 2008, where he displayed what he described as an homage to color and '80s street style: sparkly, embroidered jeans, for example, and motifs of dragons, skulls and roses on bright backdrops.
Casual wear, the designer said then, could see a rise in a troubled economy.
"You can wear this with all the clothes you have," Audigier said.
He had a reputation for high-profile hobnobbing and shrewd marketing, getting the likes of Justin Timberlake and Paris Hilton to sport his trucker hats and other gear.
"I believe celebrities are the best driver for trends," Audigier told the Los Angeles Times in 2007. "The more they wear my stuff, the more it is going to be seen by the people."
In addition to Von Dutch and Ed Hardy, Audigier designed denim items for Levi's, Guess and a number of other clothing lines. However, he had not actively designed for several years.
AP National Writer Jocelyn Noveck in New York contributed to this report.