On the death of model Tatjana Patitz

SShe seemed as if she had just happened to drop by and actually had nothing to do with the whole circus. As if she had just been on the horse, then had a quick shower, put on a white shirt and simply stood there with Naomi, Christy, Cindy and Linda, she Peter Lindbergh just photographed for Vogue. After her job she would be driven home, to the dogs and horses, back to nature.

Nothing about Tatjana Patitz seemed artificial. We met once, that was in 2010, in the Hamburg hotel “Vier Jahreszeiten” in her hometown. First came the shoot, she put on different clothes, and that was exactly the order of precedence: she wore the clothes and not the other way around. There she was in her mid-forties and an appearance, tall, lightly tanned, sun-streaked hair, subtle make-up. A slimness that has more to do with exercise and genes than with a strict diet. We talked fashion and being a former supermodel, she ate a yolkless omelet and politely bored the conversation.

The rest is hard work

She was the first German supermodel to play at the top, everyone knew that Claudia Schiffer and Nadja Auermann not yet and certainly not Heidi Klum. She was already in New York before these two were even in Paris. She worked with almost all well-known photographers, with Lindbergh, who turned the five supermodels into icons in black and white, with Horst P. Horst, Bruce Weber, Helmut Newton, Herb Ritts, Irving Penn, later came Ellen von Unwerth and Mario Add Sorrenti and Juergen Teller.

Horses were the most important thing: with a Lipizzaner when visiting the Spanish Riding School in Vienna, 2011.

picture series

Obituary Tatjana Patitz

Photo gallery: Modeling was her job, not her life

But Tatjana Patitz was not suddenly there. She was born in Hamburg, grew up in Sweden, her father is German, her mother from Estonia. The family spent their holidays on Mallorca, and Tatjana mostly on horseback. In 1983, when she was 17, she entered the agency’s talent show elite took part and won a model contract as third place winner. The rest was hard work in an era that actually favored very thin women – and a little luck.

If Linda Evangelista and Naomi Campbell something diva-like, Christy Turlington with her broad smile on her delicate face embodied the All American Beauty and Cindy Crawford the athletic beauty, Patitz eluded such categories. It was always more complex, not quite graspable. Modeling was her job, not her life. She got in front of the camera because it was a way to make money, and when she had enough, she bought a farm in California, raised her son, raised horses, dogs, and conservation. From time to time she got off her horse and had her picture taken, this year for a campaign by fashion brand Comma. In the black and white photos she wears timeless shirts, blazers and trench coats, in a video she talks about her sponsorship of baby elephants. And she still looks like herself. Aged, with a few wrinkles that come with time, but good.

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