Tatjana Patitz, one of fashion's original supermodels, dies aged 56

The Germany-born model worked with the likes of Christy Turlington, Naomi Campbell and Cindy Crawford

German model Tatjana Patitz, pictured here in 2006. Reuters
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Tatjana Patitz, one of the original supermodels who dominated fashion in the 1980s and 1990s, died on Wednesday. She was 56.

The Germany-born Patitz was among a handful of women of the era whose looks and style catapulted them to global fame that transcended modelling.

Corinne Nicolas, founder of The Model Coop, a Manhattan agency, said that Patitz died on Wednesday morning in California.

Nicolas revealed that Patitz had been ill, but gave no further details.

Tatjana Patitz walks the runway at the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in Berlin in 2015. AP Photo

Along with Christy Turlington, Linda Evangelista, Naomi Campbell and Cindy Crawford, Patitz appeared in the smouldering video to George Michael's 1990 hit Freedom!.

That came after photographer Peter Lindbergh captured Turlington, Evangelista, Patitz and Estelle Lefebure, Karen Alexander and Rachel Williams in a picture titled White Shirts: Six Supermodels, Malibu.

Vogue magazine said despite the elite professional company she kept, Patitz had always seemed separate from other supermodels.

"There was a certain element of mystery to Patitz's beauty, something in the gentle oval of her face and the shape of her eyes that spoke of self-possession and passion," the magazine wrote.

"Patitz's allure was womanly and knowing, not that of the wide-eyed ingenue, and with her training as an actor, she was a force to be reckoned with," it said.

Born in Hamburg, Patitz moved with her Estonian mother and German father to a small Swedish town at an early age.

Her break in modelling came in 1983 when she won a trip to Paris and a limited-term contract.

She later settled in California, where she was photographed in recent years around her ranch near Santa Barbara with her son, Jonah.

The Twitter account for Lindbergh's foundation paid tribute to Patitz.

"We would like to salute Tatjana's kindness, inner beauty and outstanding intelligence....She will be immensely missed."

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