Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Real Deal

The term "supermodel" is so widely used and dispensed these days, that it is easy to forget that once upon a time, models spent years paying their dues, honing their craft and building professional relationships with designers, photographers and magazines before being bestowed the title of "supermodel". In an age where it seems as though every newcomer with a runway exclusive and a first season blue chip campaign under her belt is being touted as the next "supermodel", it's no wonder the term no longer carries as much weight (no pun intended). For me, the label "supermodel" belongs to a select group of models who have over the years served as muses to leading photographers and whose artistic collaborations have resulted in some of the most iconic fashion imagery of our time. One model for whom this label could not be more apt is the 80's teutonic goddess Tatjana Patitz. 

Tatjana Patitz
British Vogue - May 1993
Photographer - Mikael Jansson
Source - bellazon.com

I have been reticent up until now to devote a post to Patitz as I simply I could not bear the thought of going through the painstaking process of selecting the images which I feel would best represent her body of work. Given that throughout the course of her modelling career, Patitz has been a muse to many industry greats including Peter Lindbergh, Arthur Elgort, Patrick Demarchelier, Steven Meisel, Herb Ritts and Richard Avedon, the options seemed endless. Hamburg-born, Swedish-raised Patitz was one of the original Supers to be catapulted into modelling's limelight via the iconic British Vogue January 1990 cover shot by Peter Lindbergh featuring Christy Turlington, Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista and Cindy Crawford. Patitz, who began modelling at the age of fourteen when a local photographer entered her into the Elite Model Look of the Year competition, was already a successful model in her own right however the British Vogue cover singled out the five budding cover girls as definitive stars for the coming decade.

Patrick Demarchelier Fashion Photography
Photographer - Patrick Demarchelier
Source - bellazon.com

British Vogue - April 1989
Photographer - Herb Ritts
Source - thefashionspot.com

US Vogue - Unknown
Photographer - Peter Lindbergh
Source - bellazon.com

US Vogue - Unknown
Photographer - Arthur Elgort
Source - thefashionspot.com

British Vogue - April 1992
Photographer - Patrick Demarchelier
Source - thefashionspot.com

Cindy Crawford, Tatjana Patitz & Stephanie Seymour
US Harpers Bazaar - January 1990
Photographer - Philip Dixon
Source - thefashionspot.com

Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista, Tatjana Patitz,
Christy Turlington & Cindy Crawford
British Vogue - January 1990
Photographer - Peter Lindbergh
Source - thefashionspot.com

A deluge of career-defining bookings followed which propelled this coterie of models into the public's glaring eye. Whether lip-synching for George Michael's Freedom music clip, posing for Patrick Demarchelier as the perfect 10 for American Vogue's 100th Anniversary issue, or entangled in each others embrace for Herb Ritts' meticulously trained lens for Rolling Stone, it was patently clear to one and all that Patitz et al. possessed an incredulous beauty which was matched in equal parts by their larger than life personalities and charisma. For the first time in modelling history, models were calling the shots with Patitz recollecting in an interview with Red Magazine "It was a fantastic time, because everyone was unique. If somebody wanted to work with one of us, they'd wait until that girl became available."

US Vogue - Unknown
Photographer - Peter Lindbergh
Source - bellazon.com

US Vogue - Unknown
Photographer - Patrick Demarchelier
Source - bellazon.com

US Vogue - Unknown
Photographer - Wayne Maser
Source - bellazon.com

US Harpers Bazaar - Unknown
Photographer - Thierry Legoues
Source - thefashionspot.com

US Vogue - July 1992
Photographer - Hans Feurer
Source - thefashionspot.com

US Harpers Bazaar - October 1993
Photographer - Mario Sorrenti
Source - thefashionspot.com

Photographer - Unknown
Source - bellazon.com

Tatjana & Jonah Patitz
US Vogue - August 2012
Photographer - Peter Lindbergh
Source - thefashionspot.com

US Harpers Bazaar -September 1999
Photographer - Peter Lindbergh
Source - thefashionspot.com

Of all of the girls from the supermodel era, Patitz was the one whose personality and looks were the most beguiling to me. Patitz' distinctly European features, catlike eyes and elongated face lent her an air of blue-blooded aristocracy. Patitz' high fashion look was made all the more compelling because she sported a mass of wild untamed hair that made her look both exotic and mysterious. Unlike her supermodel counterparts, Patitz shied away from the limelight, preferring to seek refuge with her menagerie of pets on her ranch in Malibu, California. An ardent campaigner for animal rights, Patitz reveals in an interview with Pure Living "One of the great things my parents taught us was that all animals are complex, sensitive  beings with feelings and emotions. My aim in life has always been to live it to its fullest, being aware of everything around me - every little flower, every little bird." 

Perhaps it is Patitz' reluctance to raise her own public profile through trivial means which led her to be excluded from American Vogue's millennium issue cover which featured many of the fashion bible's most iconic models. Even so, Patitz who continues to model appearing ironically enough most recently in American Vogue's August 2012 issue, seems perfectly at peace with her lot, divulging to Red Magazine "When you see fine wrinkles around your eyes and start freaking out, you have to think 'they're maps of my life', and come to terms with it. Sometimes though, I see pictures of myself really young and have to remind myself that as well as looking really good, I was riddled with insecurities that I've long since shed. That's more important."

French Elle - March 1989
Photographer - Gilles Bensimon
Source - thefashionspot.com

British Vogue - June 1988
Photographer -
Source - bellazon.com

British Vogue - March 1989
Photographer - Sante D'Orazio
Source - thefashionspot.com

US Cosmopolitan - August 1989
Photographer - Francesco Scavullo
Source - thefashionspot.com

US Vogue - August 1989
Photographer - Peter Lindbergh
Source - bellazon.com

US Vogue - May 1987
Photographer - Richard Avedon
Source - nymag.com

US Cosmopolitan - May 1987
Photographer - Francesco Scavullo
Source - nymag.com

Italian Marie Claire - Unknown
Photographer - Unknown
Source - bellazon.com

British Vogue - November 1989
Photographer - Peter Lindbergh
Source - nymag.com

French Elle - May 1989
Photographer - Gilles Bensimon
Source - bellazon.com

British Vogue - May 1989
Photographer -
Source - bellazon.com

British Vogue - October 1988
Photographer - Herb Ritts
Source - bellazon.com

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