Touted as one of the “original supermodels,” Tatjana Patitz was featured on hundreds of magazine covers throughout the 80s and 90s.
Growing up in Skanör, Sweden, Patitz entered one of her first modeling competitions in Stockholm at the age of 17 in 1983.
The top prize was a trip to Paris and a limited-time contract, however, Patitz placed third and couldn’t find work for a year.
But when she came in contact with German photographer, Peter Lindbergh, Patitz’s career trajectory changed.
In 1988, she was photographed as part of the iconic image White Shirts: Six Supermodels, Malibu by Lindbergh and was featured on British Vogue’s January 1990 supermodels cover.
Her beauty was even seen in music videos when singer George Michael invited her and other models to lip sync in his Freedom ’90 music video.
That wasn’t the only time as just a few years prior, Patitz appeared in the Duran Duran music video for Skin Trade in 1987, which charted on Billboard’s Hot 100, and in Nick Kamen’s music video for Tell Me.
In 2000, she made an appearance in the music video for Make Me Bad by nu-metal band, Korn, which was a top 10 hit on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock Songs chart.
Despite being part of an elite group of supermodels, which included Linda Evangelista, Christy Turlington, and Rachel Williams, Patitz seemed to be the odd one out.
Part of that was her decision not to live in New York or Paris but in California to be closer to nature and her animals.
“Tatjana was always the European symbol of chic, like Romy Schneider-meets-Monica Vitti,” said Anna Wintour, global editorial director of Vogue.
“She was far less visible than her peers—more mysterious, more grown-up, more unattainable – and that had its own appeal.”
Patitz often shared her philosophies about her beliefs in life, most notably her vegetarian diet and growing older in the beauty, fashion, and entertainment industries.
“I am proud of my wrinkles. I worked for each one and they belong to me. Growing older is beautiful,” she told 63Magazine.
“You become wiser and more mature. For me, giving away or changing that gift is not an option…Beauty means being a good person and being there for others. In my opinion, beauty is not only about looks, but everything that makes up a person.”
In a 2006 interview with Prestige Hong Kong magazine, Patitz shared her opinion, revealing that she believed the golden age of supermodels was over.
“There was a real era, and the reason that happened was because glamour was brought into it,” she said.
Patitz added that “celebrities and actresses” have taken over the scene and left models “in the backseat completely.”
Throughout her iconic career, perhaps the role Patitz was most proud of was being a mother, calling her son, Jonah, “my source of happiness in life.”
It was revealed that Patitz had died on January 11 at the age of 56 after her battle with breast cancer.
Her death was confirmed by her agent.
The Peter Lindbergh Foundation wrote: “We are deeply saddened by the passing of Tatjana Patitz, a long-time friend of Peter’s.
“We would like to salute Tatjana’s kindness, inner beauty, and outstanding intelligence.
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