Tatjana Patitz

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Tatjana Patitz
Tatjana Patitz 2005.jpg
Tatjana Patitz Personality Award 2005
Born (1966-03-25) 25 March 1966 (age 50)
Hamburg, Germany
Modeling information
Height 5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)
Hair color Dark blonde
Eye color Blue

Tatjana Patitz is a German fashion model and actress who achieved international prominence in the 1980s and 1990s representing top fashion designers on runways and in magazines such as Elle magazine, Harper's Bazaar and Vogue magazine.[1][2][3] Patitz is one of the original "big five"[4][5][6][7] supermodels who appeared in the iconic 1990s music video "Freedom! '90" by George Michael[8] and is most often associated with the editorial, advertising and fine art works of photographers Herb Ritts and Peter Lindbergh.[9][10][11] In 2012, Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, who was named the most influential woman in fashion by Forbes,[12] declared that Patitz has always been one of her favorite models.[13] In her 2012 memoir, creative director of Vogue, Grace Coddington regarded Patitz as one of the original supermodels and a "must" in photographs and on the catwalk.[14] Harper's Bazaar wrote, "Indeed, Patitz's features almost confuse. Like Garbo or the Mona Lisa, the inexplicable gifts of line and luminescence defy definition."[15] In his 2015 book Models of Influence: 50 Women Who Reset The Course of Fashion, Nigel Barker (photographer) reflected on Patitz's prolific years as a fashion model. He wrote that during the height of the 1980s and 90s supermodel era, Patitz's exotic beauty set her apart from her peers and that she projected a broad range of emotions - sensuality, mystery, and serenity.[16] Such qualities made Patitz's work standout, her iconic career bridging the eras of the exhibitionist 1980s and the minimalist 1990s in a unique and enduring way: "The most lasting images of her are when she was really looking like herself," concluded Barker.[17]

Today, Patitz, who grew up an athletic tomboy swimming and riding horses, remains an avid horseback rider who continues her lifelong passion for animals and the environment by campaigning for ecological causes and animal rights.[18] Her self-described eclectic and bohemian design aesthetic for residential architecture and home design in her adoptive home state of California has been recognized internationally.[19][20][21][22][23]

Early life[edit]

Patitz was born in Hamburg, Germany[24] and raised in Skanör, Sweden. From her writer father, Patitz inherited her facial structure and youthful mouth: from her mother came pronounced cheekbones and Patitz's distinctive, arresting blue eyes.[25][26][27] Growing up in the Swedish countryside,[28] she learned to ride horses at the age of seven.[29] During the summers she found respite at her family's summer vacation home in Mallorca where she participated in horse camps.[30]



In 1983 at the age of 17, Patitz entered and became a finalist in the Elite Model Look (formerly known as Elite Models' "Look of the Year" contest) and based on a Polaroid she was placed third by Elite Model Management founder John Casablancas.[31] Patitz won a contract and moved to Paris to begin working as a model.[32] Though not an immediate success,[33] by 1985 Patitz worked regularly and at the end of that year she graced the cover of British Vogue,[34] her first major cover.

That year she also met photographer Peter Lindbergh with whom she would cultivate a 30-year collaborative relationship which lasts to this day, and which contributed to the launch of the supermodel era.[35][36][37][38][39][40]

Patitz's success in Europe lead her to New York where she was recognized by the top American magazines. At Vogue Magazine she worked with such luminary photographers as Irving Penn, Helmut Newton, Steven Meisel, Denis Piel, Sheila Metzner, and Wayne Maser. She also worked with Gilles Bensimon at Elle magazine and Francesco Scavullo at Cosmopolitan.

The December 1985 issue of Vogue featured Irving Penn's highly stylized photograph, "Colored Contact Lenses," showing Patitz wearing contact lenses over closed eyelids.[42] The image would later be included in the 1992 book "On The Edge: Images from 100 Years of Vogue" as one one of the iconic photographs of the era.[43]

In 1986 she appeared on the covers of two issues of the Italian edition of Vogue[44] and continued to be featured in editorials in the American and British editions of Vogue. Patitz won major campaigns for Calvin Klein photographed by Bruce Weber,[45] and in 1987 for Revlon's "The Most Unforgettable Women in the World" campaign photographed by Richard Avedon.[46] Avedon also photographed Patitz for her first cover of American Vogue (May 1987), a cover which is regarded as one of the definitive covers in Vogue's history.[47] Vogue began regularly including Patitz's name on the pages of fashion editorials as early as 1987, familiarizing readers not only with her face, but also with her personality.[48]

During this period, Patitz met Los Angeles-based photographer, Herb Ritts, with whom she would share another significant and enduring collaboration in fashion, fine art, and commercial work,[49] like a muse playing any role he suggested - mermaid, sprite, surfer girl, plainswoman, movie star.[50] Ritts said of Patitz, "Her features are a bit off; she's not a typical, commercial beauty; but when I shoot her, I'm never bored. Her looks have power, strength, intensity."[51]

As the decade progressed, Patitz's career escalated and due to her unique and singular looks she was credited for reshaping and expanding 1980s ideals of female beauty.[52] Patitz and a select group of individual looking, business-minded, high-profile fashion models emerged and came to be known as the original supermodels.[53][54] A photograph showing Patitz with them laughing and frolicking on the beach was taken by Peter Lindbergh for Vogue during this period. Simply titled "White Cotton Shirts," the image, now regarded as an iconic fashion photograph,[55] was accompanied by an article that singled out Patitz for her "astonishing presence",[56] praising her "uncosmeticised womanliness, new and important in the 1980s."

In another 1988 Vogue article titled "Tatjana: Million Dollar Beauty", Patitz's creative team shared their admiration for her: "In pictures, her sensitivity is what comes through; something delicate, fragile, exciting. It's a strange mixture of lazy sensuality and moments of intense emotion," said John Casablancas, president of Elite Model Management.[58] "It's hard to get a bad picture of Tatjana. She's very photogenic, which is very rare, and she looks different in every light," added photographer Patrick Demarchelier. "While some models develop one look, she has many."[59]

Her versatility and ability to transform herself was exemplified by the changing of her hair color and style with each passing year during the late 1980s, from short-haired brunette to tawny mane to long and blond.[60][61] For an April 1989 editorial titled "Earthly Powers" in British Vogue, hair stylist Didier Malige cut and restyled Patitz's foot-long blonde hair into a cropped shag just above her shoulders.[62][63][64] "Once I cut my hair - I cried for two months," Patitz told Esquire magazine. "People said, 'We can't believe she cut her hair.'"[65] But the move[66] won Patitz the covers of both British and French Vogue featuring her new look.[61][67] The pinnacle of that year came in July and August when Patitz was awarded with consecutive covers of US Vogue - two months in a row. It was an unprecedented achievement for a model of that time and an innovation for the recently revamped Vogue under the leadership of new editor-in-chief Anna Wintour. This period was the zenith of Patitz's career, known as "the era of Tatjana"[68] in the fashion industry.

During this period, in an effort to live a healthier and more balanced lifestyle, Patitz began slowing down her modeling career to focus on other creative pursuits such as writing, acting and meditation.[69] She relocated to California and made Los Angeles her homebase.[70] The move afforded Patitz, who had always searched for creative and spiritual growth, the time and space to "work on herself" and develop other aspects of her life.

In the final months of 1989, Patitz was photographed with other top models in two landmark portraits that would become seminal images defining the supermodel phenomenon of the decade to come: Stephanie, Cindy, Christy, Tatjana, Naomi, Hollywood, 1989 by Herb Ritts;[72] and Peter Lindbergh's cover of the January 1990 issue of British Vogue.[73]

"The past is history
and the future is just a mystery
The Spirit guides and protects me
and makes me see the importance
of self-love and realization of the Eternal
Without that I am nothing
and with it I am everything
- A poem written by Tatjana Patitz and shared with Model Magazine (December 1989-January 1990)[74]


The 1990s began with Patitz on the January covers of both American and British Vogue.[75] Patitz shared the British Vogue cover with Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, Linda Evangelista and Christy Turlington in an image that is universally regarded for igniting the supermodel phenomenon of the 1990s, earning each woman global appeal as a distinct individual and as a member of a powerful group of professional, independent women.[76][77][78][79][80] Photographed by Peter Lindbergh, the cover inspired pop star George Michael to cast Patitz, Crawford, Evangelista, Turlington and Campbell in his music video for the song "Freedom! '90" which was directed by David Fincher. Michael did not appear in the video; instead, each woman would lip-synch the song in Michael's place.[81] Patitz and her co-stars were already top stars in the fashion world but were now gaining major recognition for their beauty and charisma outside of it too.[82][83] The music video was programmed into heavy rotation on MTV,[84] going on to transcend the worlds of pop culture, music, and fashion in the 1990s and remaining influential in the decades to come.[85][86][87][88]

Settled in Malibu on a hillside home overlooking the ocean, Patitz continued to manage her demanding modeling career while studying acting in Los Angeles.[90] She work mostly with Ritts, Lindbergh and Maser but was sought after by the industry's leading female photographers such as Peggy Sirota, Ellen Von Unwerth, Pamela Hanson and Sheila Metzner as well as new photographers such as Mario Sorrenti and Juergen Teller. Los Angeles-based photographers Phillip Dixon and Matthew Rolston were also frequently photographing Patitz for Harper's Bazaar. Rolston said of Patitz: "I look for more than beauty. There must be a memorable quality. Tatjana has it more than anyone else. She sticks in your mind. There's a depth, an emotional quality to her that's truly extraordinary. She's very dear, charming and extremely feminine. She's very open and her priorities are natural things - animals, the sea, the environment. That's what's so interesting about her. She's not what she seems."[91]

As the decade progressed, Patitz would remain in constant demand in advertising campaigns and on runways[92] for such top fashion houses as Chanel, Versace, Salvatore Ferragamo, Valentino (fashion designer), Karl Lagerfeld, Helmut Lang (fashion brand), Donna Karan, Jean Paul Gaultier, and Vivienne Westwood.[93] Most notably, Patitz was the long-standing face of Jil Sander, representing the designer's minimalist elegance for a generation of fashion readers [94] in era-defining ad campaigns photographed by Nick Knight.[95][96]

Patitz also shared another iconic cover with the supermodels of the era for the centennial issue of American Vogue (April 1992) photographed by Patrick Demarchelier.[97]

In her fashion editorials of the 1990s, Patitz worked with such photographers as Max Vadukul, Sante D'Orazio, Mikael Jannson, Arthur Elgort, Hans Feurer, Walter Chin, Thierry Le Gouès and Javier Vallhonrat. In advertising, Patitz won an exclusive cosmetic contract with Germaine Monteil makeup and perfumes.[98] She also appeared in international television commercials for Cartier,[99] L'Oréal, Revlon, Levi (jeans), Corsa, Dupont, Pantene, Dockers, and Ralph Lauren.


Tatjana Patitz in The Reunion - director' cuts (2015) at Nowness by Peter Lindbergh

Patitz continues to act and model. She has appeared on over 200 magazine covers worldwide, including thirteen covers of British Vogue, seven covers of American Vogue as well as covers of the French, Italian, German, Spanish, and Australian editions of Vogue. Most recently, she appeared on the covers of such international magazines as Corduroy (Fall/Winter 2012), Santa Barbara Magazine (Fall 2012), Numéro China (February 2013), Equistyle (October 2013), D Magazine (May 2014), C California Style Magazine (Fall 2015), and Prestige Hong Kong (June 2016). Advertisements and commercials for such brands as Villeroy & Boch[100] and Chico's (clothing retailer)[101] integrate her personal style with her passion for animals and the environment.

Regarded as one of the "Original Supermodels",[102][103][104][105] Patitz remains in demand and periodically returns to the runway for select designers, such as Jean-Paul Gaultier for Hermes,[106] and Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel.[107][108]

Acting and other appearances[edit]

In 1987, she appeared in the Duran Duran music video for the song "Skin Trade". Upon moving to California to begin a career as an actress, her first appearance was as a murder victim in the Philip Kaufman-directed Rising Sun (1993) starring Sean Connery and Wesley Snipes.[109] Following this, Patitz made several appearances on television series, music videos, and films, including "The Larry Sanders Show" and "The Single Guy."[110] Her largest role was in the 1999 thriller Restraining Order.

In 1988, Tatjana was featured in Nick Kamen's music video "Tell Me" in which she played his love interest as a 50-foot woman.

In 1990, Tatjana was featured in George Michael's "Freedom! '90" music video, along with Cindy Crawford, Christy Turlington, Linda Evangelista, and Naomi Campbell.

In 2000, she appeared in the Korn music video for the song "Make Me Bad".

Along with Michael J. Fox, she appears in the 2011 Carl Zeiss AG calendar, photographed by Bryan Adams in New York City in the summer of 2010.[111]

Advocate for Animal Rights and Environmental Activist[edit]

Patitz, who grew up near the sea in the quiet countryside of Sweden,[112] had an appreciation for nature and animals instilled in her by her parents. When Patitz achieved success as model, she discussed environmental impact on animals in interviews as early as 1987. Fashion editorials from the late 1980s throughout the 2000s featured her own pets in photographs. In an interview for Top Model, Patitz counted having nineteen birds, dogs, and cats in her home which was likened to Noah's ark with canaries, parrots, and doves roaming around freely.[113]

Patitz's emphasis has been elephants but also trees and ecology. For many years, Patitz was involved with education around marine life and ocean conservation, specifically dolphins. Patitz, who visits animal shelters regularly, has close ties to environmental agencies and is involved with PETA, Greenpeace and rescue efforts for whales and dolphins.[114]

Today, Patitz uses the power of social media to serve the planet: her efforts are centered around conservation and such issues as elephant poaching, climate change, clean air and fracking.[115][116] Through the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, Patitz fosters orphan elephant babies.[117]

Personal life[edit]

In 1989, Patitz went to live on a ranch in Malibu, California where in 2009 she was reported to have four horses, four dogs and two cats, commenting "I needed nature around me". She has one son, Jonah, who was born in 2004.[118]

Patitz is vegetarian.[119]



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  103. ^ Kramer, Jennifer Blaise. "Natural Beauty - Supermodel Tatjana Patitz creates a rustic sanctuary at her Carpinteria ranch". C-home (www.c-home.com). C California Style ("Patitz, one of the original supermodels, spent decades in the spotlight gracing glossy magazines, including the famous Peter Lindbergh-shot British Vogue cover alongside Christy Turlington, Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell and Linda Evangelista—the same iconic team who starred in George Michael’s “Freedom” video"). Retrieved 16 August 2016. 
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  119. ^ Tatjana Patitz at International Vegetarian Union

External links[edit]