Legendary Supermodel Tatjana Patitz Dead At 56

One of the most iconic models of the 1990s, German-born Tatjana Patitz has died. She was 56. Patitz was one of the original supermodels of the 1990s, famously lip-synching in George Michael’s “Freedom ’90” video. The statuesque blonde, with feline eyes and Amazonian limbs, first broke into modelling aged 17, when she entered an Elite Model Contest in Stockholm in 1983. She was photographed by some of the greats of 20th-century fashion. Horst P Horst immortalised her for the September 1985 cover of French Vogue, she posed for Irving Penn, Helmut Newton, Sheila Metzner and Stephen Meisel.  But it was the images she took with Peter Lindbergh in the late eighties that skyrocketed her career. In 1988, he photographed her for a famous Vogue cover, cavorting with fellow supers, all wearing white shirts, on the beach in Malibu. Another iconic Lindbergh-lensed supermodel group shot, appeared on the cover of British Vogue in January 1990.  When George Michael saw that image, featuring Patitz, Christy Turlington, Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista and Cindy Crawford, he cast the girls for his “Freedom ’90” music video. She was also a favourite of Herb Ritts and Patrick Demarchelier.

Patitz’s beauty was more elusive, mysterious and unattainable than her fellow supers. She brought a languid, sensuality to the frame. She shunned the limelight and lived a quiet life with her son Jonah on her ranch in California’s Santa Ynez Valley. An avid horsewoman, she relished being close to nature. In 1989, she told the December issue of Model Magazine, “I don’t want to do anything for fame or money or glamour or anything like that…I think people are coming to a higher awareness in the world. Everything is polluted – the oceans, the forests…and people are killing each other all over the place without realizing that we all belong together and have to share this place. Maybe I’m dreaming, but I’m hopeful.”

Top image: Photography by Peter Lindbergh, courtesy of @tatjanapatitz.


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