Tatjana Patitz, considered one of the first in the industry to attain supermodel status, died on Wednesday, January 11 at her home in Santa Barbara, California. She was 56 years old.

Vogue, the brand that gave Patitz her first modeling break in the 1980s, announced the news of her death on Wednesday. The cause of her death was not immediately made public. 

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Who was Tatjana Patitz?

Tatjana Patitz was born on March 25, 1966, in Hamburg, in pre-unification West Germany. In the 1980s and 1990s, she rose to international fame by showcasing fashion designers on catwalks and in publications like Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, and Vogue.

Although Patitz was born in Germany, she was raised in Sweden. Her father was a travel journalist and the Patitz family traveled a lot throughout Tatjana’s childhood. Her mother, an Estonian, was a dancer in the Le Lido cabaret show in Paris.

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The fact that both her parents came from diverse and contrasting backgrounds made Tatjana’s childhood unique.

She started her modeling career in the early 1980s when she became a finalist in the Elite Model Look – a yearly modeling event held by the Elite Model Agency.

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1985 was a path-breaking moment for her as she got featured in Vogue for the first time and also met Peter Lindbergh- a photographer who would go on to become her godfather in the world of modeling. Lindbergh and Patitz would go on to work together for the next 30 years, seeing her rise as one of the first supermodels in the fashion industry. 

Other than Lindbergh, she has also worked with photographers like Herb Ritts, Patrick Demarchelier, and Annie Leibovitz.

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Patitz has also appeared in numerous music videos, such as Duran Duran’s Skin Trade, Nick Kamen’s Tell Me, and George Michael’s Freedom! 90.

She was married to Jason Johnson from 2003 to 2009 and together they have a son called Jonah Patitz.