Tatjana Patitz, one of the most famous supermodels in the world in the ’80s and ’90s, is being remembered by her peers, including Cindy Crawford and Naomi Campbell, after her death at age 56.
Patitz’s agent of three decades, Corinne Nicolas, announced the news on Wednesday. She called the German-born, Sweden-raised catwalker and fashion magazine cover girl — who was among the iconic group of models in George Michael’s “Freedom! 90” video — as “an exceptional beauty” and “an exceptional human being.”
Nicolas said the cause of death was illness, but did not provide further details.
Patitz, who died in the Santa Barbara, Calif., area, was survived by a 19-year-old son, Jonah. Mother and son recently appeared on the red carpet together, on Oct. 5, at an event in Germany.
The news immediately drew reactions on social media from those within that close-knit group of the original supermodels who dominated the industry in that era.
Crawford, sharing an old modeling photo of them, recalled being “babies” in the industry who “grew up together” as they navigated shoots and shows. “I found her soft-spoken, sensitive, kind, inquisitive and, who could ever forget those piercing eyes,” wrote the 56-year-old. She sent “condolences to her family — especially the son she adored.”
Campbell, 52, recalled meeting Patitz when she was 16. She said it was the first time she visited LA and that Patitz drove her around in her red Volkswagen convertible. She called her late friend an “earth angel” who was “kind, generous, shy” and loved animals “sometimes more than people.” She said she had “goddess energy that we were all drawn to.”
Claudia Schiffer, 52, called her a “true member of the supermodel gang.” She said she was always a “joy” to work alongside as someone who was “grounded yet always elevated.”
Christy Turlington Burns, 54, said Patitz “embodied, to me, European sophistication and style” when they met in 1985. She said they became fast friends as young models in France as young models as they drank mini bar champagne, ate Toblerone chocolates and smoked cigarettes. She said she learned so much from her friend, who was “always a vision” and “glamorous, sophisticated and warm, once she let you in. I could have watched her smoke cigarettes and speak in any of the many languages she was fluent in all day. Who needed to work? I was learning how an international woman behaved and moved in the world in real time.”
Paulina Porizkova, 57, recalled them working together, but not getting to know each other until 30 years later when they chatted all night, spilling their most intimate secrets. She said she “got to know this beautiful woman, get a sense of her fragility and her full heart. Her love for animals, her horses and dogs, nature and art (yes, she painted) and most of all the love for her little son. It was an in-depth dive into our souls from which I walked away filled with genuine affection, tenderness and respect for her.”
Stephanie Seymour, 54, wrote, “There’s no word that describes Tatjana more than ethereal.”
Helena Christensen, 54, remembered her friend as “a divine spirit.” She said she was “grateful we kept in touch till the end” and would treasure their text messages talking about nature. “I hope you’re riding on a horse in endless meadows with that smile on your face and the wind blowing in your hair,” Christensen wrote.
Here are some more tributes from Milla Jovovich, Elaine Irwin, Shalom Harlow and Frederique van der Wal:
Shalom Harlow wrote in her Instagram stories that Patitz’s “deep, penetrating gaze” will always be with her.