Tatjana Patitz, celebrated as one of the original supermodels, dies at 56

Closeup of a blond woman smiling.
Tatjana Patitz, pictured in December 2006.
(Fabian Bimmer / Associated Press)

Supermodel Tatjana Patitz, who graced the pages of magazines including British Vogue during the 1980s and ’90s, has died. She was 56.

“Today, our beauty Tatjana Patitz, passed away,” Patitz’s agency, the Model CoOp, announced Wednesday on Instagram. “As one of the original Supers and through her work with Patrick Demarchelier, Herb Ritts, and Peter Lindbergh, Tatjana’s career in the fashion industry stands apart.”

Patitz died of metastatic breast cancer, Model CoOp director Corinne Nicolas confirmed to The Times on Wednesday.


Born in Germany and raised in Sweden, Patitz began her modeling career in the late ’80s and rose to fame as one of the original supermodels.

Her breakout appearance came via British Vogue’s January 1990 cover, which featured Peter Lindbergh’s “White Shirts: Six Supermodels, Malibu.” The famed cover photo also featured modeling icons Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista, Christy Turlington and Cindy Crawford.

Shortly after, Patitz and her co-models starred in the music video for George Michael’s “Freedom!”

For Swedish newcomer Tatjana Patitz--the supermodel-turned-actress who at 26 is a dead-ringer for a young Lauren Bacall--a mostly nude performance as the murder victim in 20th Century Fox’s new release “Rising Sun” wasn’t exactly how the ingenue imagined she would break into the business.

Aug. 8, 1993

She also appeared in music videos for Duran Duran and films including “Rising Sun,” “Ready to Wear” and “Restraining Order.”

“I’d rather do smaller parts with a good cast and director that I believe in,” she told The Times in 1993. “I’m taking every day as it comes. To think of all the possible outcomes, I would drive myself insane.”

Model Sarita Fernandez and makeup artist Selena Ruiz on the power of gassing each other up on set and ending the night at Phở 87.

Sept. 14, 2022

Paying tribute to Patitz on Wednesday was Crawford, who recalled on Instagram her time with the model.


“We were babies together in the fashion industry and I feel like we grew up together. We were in so many shoots together and backstage at shows,” Crawford captioned a picture of her and Patitz.

“I found her soft-spoken, sensitive, kind, inquisitive and, who could ever forget those piercing eyes. Her love of animals and nature was infectious. Sending my condolences to her family — especially the son she adored. RIP.”

Fashion wouldn’t be anything without the narrative threads that make the work.

Sept. 14, 2022

Fashion photographer Nigel Barker tweeted Wednesday that he “will never forget her.”

On Twitter, the Peter Lindbergh Foundation remembered Patitz for her “kindness, inner beauty and outstanding intelligence.”

In Vogue’s tribute published Wednesday, global editorial director Anna Wintour celebrated Patitz.

“Tatjana was always the European symbol of chic, like Romy Schneider-meets-Monica Vitti,” she said. “She was far less visible than her peers — more mysterious, more grown-up, more unattainable — and that had its own appeal.”


Patitz is survived by son Jonah, 19; her sister; and her parents. To honor Patitz, as well as her support for the conservation of wild horses, supporters can donate to equine sanctuary Return to Freedom.