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Supermodel Tatjana Patitz died at the age of 56.
Vogue, who helped launch Patitz’s career in the 1980s, announced the news of her death on January 11. The cause of her death has not been released. Considered one of the first supermodels, the German-born, Swedish-raised Patitz entered her first modeling competition at the age of 17 in Stockholm. Although she placed third, her career began to flourish only after the famous photographer Peter Lindbergh photographed her a few years later, in 1988.
One of Patitz’s most memorable appearances came after she modeled for British Vogue 1990 — George Michael hired her for his music video “Freedom ’90” alongside Cindy Crawford, Christy Turlington, Naomi Campbell and Linda Evangelista.
Patitz said The New York Times in 2016 that Michael was one of her “first teenage crushes,” so she was smitten when she first met him. Still, the two have worked together several times, she said, and she’s always had a good experience with him, including the “Freedom ’90” video. She noted, however, that the musician wasn’t actually on the set the day she shot her part of the video. Patitz was in and out of town that day and didn’t even meet Michael.
“I was in my zone,” she said of the shoot. “I had to slide up and down the wall for part of the day. The feel of the set was so shabby, that big, loft kind of vibe. There was another set with me lying on a deckchair with a black smoking jacket on. I think I might have had a bust on . I even smoked. Back then, people still smoked in videos and even in movies.”
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After Patitza’s career took off in the 1990s, she put down roots in California and also graced the pages of various magazine issues. Vogueas well as other magazines like Marie Claire and Cosmopolitan.
In addition to frequent collaboration with Lindbergh, Patitz often shot with famous photographers Herb Ritts and Patrick Demarchelier. She built close relationships with photographers, who continued to help elevate her career.
“People always said I looked special; that I didn’t look like anyone else,” Patitz said Vogue 1988 “And I was going to make it because of it.” The 1990 film about Patitz u Harper’s Bazaar confirmed the uniqueness of the model in its beauty.
“Indeed, Patitza’s features are almost bewildering. Like Garbo or the Mona Lisa, the inexplicable gifts of line and glow defy definition,” the magazine wrote, after attributing similar sentiments to hairstylist Oribe and makeup artist Gary Berkowitz.
During her career, Patitz modeled for Chanel, Donna Karan, Vivienne Westwood and many others. Her most recent fashion show was at Milan Fashion Week 2019 with Etro for the Fall/Winter 2019/20 presentation of the fashion house.
“Tatiana has always been a symbol of European chic, like Romy Schneider-meets-Monica Vitti,” said Anna Wintour, Condé Nast’s chief content officer and global editorial director. Vogue, following the news of Patitz’s death. “She was far less visible than her peers—more mysterious, more grown-up, more elusive—and that had its appeal.”
In her career, Patitz has appeared on the cover Vogue six different times, which made her a legacy in the fashion magazine.
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Patitza’s son Jonah Johnson followed in his mother’s footsteps and became a model himself — he even posed with his mother for Vogue. The two of them appeared in a fashion magazine several times, the last time in 2019. She explained Vogue 2022, “Jonah is my source of happiness.”
Patitza’s last red carpet appearance was with Jonah at the Tribute to Bambi in Berlin, Germany last October. For the event, the two coordinated in all-black suits to walk the carpet together.
Patitz was born on March 25, 1966, in Hamburg, and had a son, Jonah, in November 2004. She loved all animals, especially horses, according to Vogueand was an ambassador for the American Wild Horse Reserve.
She has often shared photos of her animals on Instagram, including her most recent social media post in August. She celebrated National Dog Day with two cute photos of her pups, Matilda and Gatsby. Patitz has also often shared throwbacks from her career, sharing praise for the teams she’s worked with over the years.
Patitz lived a private life when she wasn’t on the runway or red carpet, choosing to raise her son out of the spotlight. Her iconic work will live on as her legacy.
“In front of the lens, she’s it! It’s clear why she’s in such demand,” said hairstylist Sally Hershberger Harper’s Bazaar in the same 1990 film that praised Patitza’s beauty. – She is the most beautiful of all.