10 Memorable Images Of Supermodel Tatjana Patitz (1966–2023)

10 Memorable Images Of Supermodel Tatjana Patitz (1966–2023)
ABOVE: Tatjana Patitz, photographed by Peter Lindbergh for Vogue, August 2012

By Christopher Turner

When you talk about the era of the supermodel and the era of models as celebrities, you cannot leave out the late Tatjana Patitz. Often referred to as one of the “original supermodels,” Patitz was known for her runway and editorial work throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s, ultimately helping to define the fashion landscape of the late 20th century. Patitz – a name synonymous with grace, beauty and timeless elegance – died at the age of 56 from metastatic breast cancer, passing away on January 11, 2023, in Santa Barbara, Calif.

Born in Hamburg, Germany, on May 25, 1966, and raised in Sweden, Patitz kicked off her modelling career when she won third place in a contest held by Elite Model Management at the age of 17; as a result, she won a contract with the agency and moved to Paris to begin her modelling career. By 1985, she was a regular in the industry, with her first British Vogue cover to her name. It wasn’t long before her distinctive looks – marked by her natural beauty, deep-set eyes and statuesque figure – caught the attention of renowned photographers, including Peter Lindbergh, with whom she would go on to collaborate repeatedly over the next few decades.

“I admire Tatjana because she always stays herself,” Lindbergh wrote about the model in his book, 10 Women. “She’s very soft, but at the same time she’s very strong and knows how to stand up for what she thinks, and it’s always very enriching to be with her. It’s impossible not to admire her and over the years not to be just a little bit in love with her.”

The volume of photographic captures of Patitz is incredibly vast. In celebration of one of the original supermodels, we take a look back at 10 career-defining images from her repertoire of covers, ads and mesmerizing fashion editorials that she was featured in during her too-short career.

Her first Vogue cover

10 Memorable Images Of Supermodel Tatjana Patitz (1966–2023): Her first Vogue cover

Patitz’s first major cover was for British Vogue. This was the era of Anna Wintour, who served as editor of the UK edition from 1985 to 1987 before taking over at House & Garden (which she renamed HG), and subsequently Vogue in New York City. Patitz was shot by fashion photographer Albert Watson for the cover of British Vogue’s October 1985 issue, which featured the new model wearing a gold lamé jacket.

That iconic Vogue cover

10 Memorable Images Of Supermodel Tatjana Patitz (1966 – 2023): That iconic Vogue cover

Patitz’s most memorable image has to be the January 1990 cover of British Vogue, which has since become one of the most iconic fashion images of all time. Patitz (top centre), Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista, Christy Turlington and Cindy Crawford were photographed together by Peter Lindbergh for the cover, and that shot would not only change each of their careers but would leave a mark in pop culture. The cover dropped during the height of the supermodel craze, marking a shift in fashion, and when George Michael saw it, he personally invited all of the women to star in the music video for his upcoming single, the now iconic “Freedom! ’90.”

10 Memorable Images Of Supermodel Tatjana Patitz (1966–2023) - Freedom! ’90

Patitz told The New York Times in 2016 that Michael was one of her “first teenage crushes,” so she was starstruck when she first met him on set.

Herb Ritts: “Metamorphosis of the Body”

10 Memorable Images Of Supermodel Tatjana Patitz (1966 – 2023): Herb Ritts "Metamorphosis of the Body"

Photographed by legendary photographer Herb Ritts for the October 1988 issue of British Vogue, Patitz looked stunning in this fashion spread, titled “Metamorphosis of the Body.” George Newell did Patitz’s makeup for the shoot.

The October 1988 cover of British Vogue

10 Memorable Images Of Saupermodel Tatjana Patitz (1966 – 2023): The April 1992 cover of Vogue

Along with the “Metamorphosis of the Body” fashion spread, Patitz also appeared on the cover of the October 1988 issue of British Vogue. Ritts, who died in 2002, said in 1999 that he had photographed her more than he had shot any other model, adding that she had the most “unusual face.”

On her death, The Herb Ritts Foundation paid tribute to the model, saying in a statement: “We are deeply saddened by the news of Tatjana’s passing. Our thoughts go to her loved ones and particularly her son Jonah.”

Chanel ad

10 Memorable Images Of Supermodel Tatjana Patitz (1966 – 2023): Chanel ad

Patitz was a mainstay in Karl Lagerfeld’s world and repeatedly walked the runway in the seasonal fashion shows of the brands that he worked with, including Chanel, Fendi, Chloé and his own eponymous brand. Above, Patitz appears in one of the many Chanel ad campaigns she appeared in throughout the 1990s, which were all photographed by Lagerfeld himself.

1989 Gianni Versace ad

10 Memorable Images Of Supermodel Tatjana Patitz (1966 – 2023): 1989 Gianni Versace ad

Patitz appeared in countless ad campaigns throughout her career, including for Versace. This 1989 Gianni Versace ad was photographed by the legendary Bruce Weber.

Calvin Klein

10 Memorable Images Of Saupermodel Tatjana Patitz (1966 – 2023): Calvin Klein

Besides Chanel and Versace, Patitz appeared in a number of Calvin Klein ads throughout her career. Photographer Peter Lindbergh took these images of Patitz in New York in 1987 for a Calvin Klein campaign. They were republished by Rizzoli New York for the brand’s 2017 retrospective coffee table book Calvin Kleinby Calvin Klein.


10 Memorable Images Of Saupermodel Tatjana Patitz (1966 – 2023): PETA

Throughout her career, Patitz (second from left) was more than just a model; she was a voice for environmental conservation and animal rights, using her platform to advocate for causes close to her heart. At the busiest time in her career, Patitz began using her voice (and face) in support of PETA, and posed in their “Rather Go Naked” campaign alongside Fabienne Terwinghe, Heather White, Emma Sjoberg and Naomi Campbell.

The April 1992 cover of Vogue

10 Memorable Images Of Saupermodel Tatjana Patitz (1966 – 2023): The April 1992 cover of Vogue

Clockwise from top: Christy Turlington, Linda Evangelista, Cindy Crawford, Karen Mulder, Elaine Irwin, Niki Taylor, Yasmeen Ghauri, Claudia Schiffer, Naomi Campbell and (centre) Tatjana Patitz.

Patitz was reunited with her supermodel peers in 1992 for American Vogue’s 100th anniversary special issue. Shot by Patrick Demarchelier, the April 1992 issue featured 10 supermodels in white denim. “Then, casual sportswear was all the rage,” the magazine’s editor, Anna Wintour, would later write, “so our 10 ‘supermodels’ sported white shirts and jeans.”

The February 2023 cover of Vogue Italia

10 Memorable Images Of Saupermodel Tatjana Patitz (1966 – 2023): The February 2023 cover of Vogue Italia

After Patitz passed away on January 11, 2023, Vogue Italia dedicated their February 2023 cover to the late supermodel with a beautiful black and white archival image, a testament to her enduring appeal and impact on the fashion industry.

Peter Lindbergh had originally taken the image of Patitz for the October 1990 issue of Vogue Italia. The original fashion credits for the image include Elisabeth Djian (fashion editor), Stephane Marais (makeup) and Julien D’Ys (hair).

NEED MORE supermodel stories? You can check out 10 memorable images of supermodel Gia Carangi, 10 of Janice Dickinson’s most memorable Vogue covers, or read THE STORY OF: How “anti-supermodel” Kate Moss pioneered a whole new fashion trend.

Tags: supermodel, supermodels, Tatjana Patitz, top story, topstory

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