Tatjana Patitz dies aged 56: is cause of death known, how did she die, who was supermodel, did she have a son?

Tatjana Patitz was best known for appearing in the music video to the George Michael hit ‘Freedom! 90’

Tatjana Patitz has died aged 56. (Getty Images)Tatjana Patitz has died aged 56. (Getty Images)
Tatjana Patitz has died aged 56. (Getty Images)

Well known supermodel Tatjana Patitz has died, aged 56.

Her agent Corinne Nicolas revealed that the cause of death was illness but did not give any further information. The German born model was living in California, USA at the time of her death.

Patiz rose to prominence during the 1980s and 1990s and is described as being one of the ‘original supermodels’ alongside other big names at the time including Cindy Crawford, Christy Turlington, Linda Evangelista and Naomi Campbell.

Here we take a look back at the life of Tatjana Patitiz and how she became one of the most influential supermodels of her era.

Who was Tatjana Patitz

Tatjana Patitz was a well known German supermodel and artist who rose to international prominence during the 1980s and 1990s.

Patitiz was born in Hamburg on 25 March 1966 to an Estonian mother and a German father. She grew up in the Swedish town of Skanor as a child.

Patitiz began her modelling career at the age of 17 and came third in a beauty contest. She was rewarded with a modelling contract and moved to Paris to begin working as a model in 1983.

Tatjana Patitz and son Jonah Patitz pictured in 2022. (Getty Images)Tatjana Patitz and son Jonah Patitz pictured in 2022. (Getty Images)
Tatjana Patitz and son Jonah Patitz pictured in 2022. (Getty Images)

Patitiz took a few years to breakthrough as a big name in the industry but featured on her first British Vogue cover by the end of 1985 at the age of 19.

The young model enjoyed great success in Europe during the late 1980s and established herself as one of the big names in the industry - featuring in magazines such as Elle, Harper Bazaar and worldwide editions of Vogue.

Patitiz was a member of the ‘big five’ original supermodels alongside Stephanie Seymour, Cindy Crawford, Christy Turlington and Naomi Campbell. The five women are credited with ushering the 1990s pop-cultural phenomenon of the supermodel and are described as the ‘original supermodels’.

The five models featured on a cover of the January edition of British Vogue and went on to appear in the 1990 hit ‘Freedom! 90’ by George Michael. Michael himself did not appear in the video and instead each woman lip-synched the song in Michael’s place.

Patitiz also featured in the 1987 music video for Skin Trade by Duran Duran which charted in the Billboard’s top 100.

Patitz attributed her success to not looking like anyone else at the time. The German model continued to appear as a model throughout her later life and made her final appearance on the Etro show in February 2019 as part of Milan fashion week.

Tributes to Tatjana Patitz

Many high profile models have paid their respects to Tatjana Patitiz. Anna Wintour, global editorial director of Vogue 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.”

Fellow supermodel Cindy Crawford also paid tribute to Patitiz and expressed her sadness at losing someone she grew up with in the industry. Crawford posted a picture of the pair on Instagram with the caption: “So sad to hear of the passing of the beautiful Tatjana Patitz. We were babies together in the fashion industry and I feel like we grew up together. We were in so many shoots together and backstage at shows.

“I found her soft-spoken, sensitive, kind, inquisitive and who could forget those piercing eyes. Her love of animals and nature were infectious. Sending my condolences to her family - especially her son she adored. RIP.”

Who is Tatjana Patitz’s son?

Tatjana Patitiz welcomed her son Jonah during her marriage to former husband Jason Johnson.

Jonah Patitiz was born in November 2004 and is 18-years-old. He is currently following in the footsteps of his mother by pursuing a career in modelling.

Tatjana has previously described her son as her “source of happiness.”