Iconic German 'supermodel' Tatjana Patitz dies of breast cancer aged 56

German model Tatjana Patitz during a fashion shoot for catalogue firm Otto
German model Tatjana Patitz during a fashion shoot for catalogue firm Otto   -   Copyright  Fabian Bimmer/AP2006
By Euronews  with AP

Tatjana Patitz, one of an elite group of famed supermodels who graced magazine covers in the 1980s and ’90s, has died aged 56.

Her death in the Santa Barbara area of California was confirmed by her New York agent, Corinne Nicolas, at the Model CoOp agency. She later revealed Patitz died from breast cancer. 

Patitz, who was born in Germany, raised in Sweden and later made her life in California, was known as part of an elite handful of “original” supermodels, appearing in George Michael's Freedom '90 video along with Christy Turlington, Linda Evangelista, Naomi Campbell and Cindy Crawford.

She was a favourite of fashion photographer Peter Lindbergh, who highlighted her natural beauty in his famous 1988 photo, “White Shirts: Six Supermodels, Malibu,” and for British Vogue’s 1990 cover - leading Michael to cast the group in his lip-syncing video, according to Vogue.

The magazine quoted its global editorial director, Anna Wintour, as saying Patitz was “always the European symbol of chic, like Romy Schneider-meets-Monica Vitti. She was far less visible than her peers - more mysterious, more grown-up, more unattainable - and that had its own appeal.”

Patitz was also a choice subject for another American fashion photographer Herb Ritts who paid tribute to her via Instagram, posting comments from 1999: "I think I've photographed her more than anybody, and to me more than any of the women she has the most unusual face: strong, oval, the almond eyes and those strong lips —and it's her gaze, her inner self that always comes through so strongly.” 

Her fellow supermodel Cindy Crawford also used Instagram to share her fond memories and pay tribute.

In a 2006 interview, Patitz opined that 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 was quoted as saying in Prestige Hong Kong magazine. “Now the celebrities and actresses have taken over, and the models are in the backseat completely.”

She also noted that models from her era had healthier physiques.

“Women were healthy, not these scrawny little models that nobody knows their names anymore,” Patitz said.