Supermodel Tatjana Patitz died Wednesday at 56 from metastatic breast cancer.

Beginning in the 80s, the supermodel appeared on covers for Vogue and countless other fashion magazines.

Atypical of many models of her time, Patitz lived a quiet life in nature away from the public eye.


Anna Wintour, Vogue‘s Global Editorial Director, said, “Tatjana 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 born in Hamburg, Germany but raised in Sweden. Her career started when she was selected in 1983 as a finalist of the “Elite Model Look” competition. The award was a trip to Paris and a limited-time contract.

However, she didn’t rise to fame until the late 80s when she began modeling for photographer Peter Lindbergh. She was part of an iconic 1990 British Vogue cover, appearing with other elite and “original” supermodels of the 80s, including Christy Turlington, Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista and Cindy Crawford.

This inspired George Michael to cast her in his music video for “Freedom! ’90.”

Outside of modeling, Patitz was heavily involved in animal advocacy. In 2021, she told the Mexican magazine Milenio that she promoted California legislation to protect wild horses as part of the American Wild Horse Campaign.

She is survived by her son, Jonah Johnson.

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