How Supermodel Tatjana Patitz Keeps Her Shine On

The season’s most original gems are a perfect match for an OG supermodel

Words by KELSEY MCKINNON
Photography by AMANDA DEMME
Creative & Fashion Direction by ALISON EDMOND

 

Like it or love it, the ’90s are back. The collective desire for neutral slip dresses, mom jeans and minimalist habitats has returned, and so have the muses of the time. Cindy Crawford, Claudia Schiffer, Naomi Campbell, Carla Bruni and Helena Christensen closed Versace’s Spring 2018 catwalk; Campbell just graced the March cover of British Vogue; and the Spice Girls reunion tour launches this May. Tatjana Patitz, one of the era’s “big five” (along with Campbell, Crawford, Christy Turlington Burns and Linda Evangelista), is certainly no exception. “There is a real nostalgia for the ’90s,” she says — her ice-blue gaze just as mesmerizing as it was some 20 years ago. “The inclusivity of aging has changed as there is demand from women who want someone to relate to.”

At 52, Patitz is selective about her work, relishing opportunities to promote a worthy cause or to collaborate with old friends. She’s also become vigilant about skincare (deep facials once in a while, and organic cleanser, serum, moisturizer, face mist and sunscreen every day). “It’s not easy [getting older]. You know when you take out your phone and the camera comes on and you scare yourself? Then I say, ‘I have to do something about this!’” she jokes.

She recently shot a women’s empowerment campaign for Esprit in Europe, which is where she plans to return for a few months in the summer to spend time with family. She grew up in a quiet beach town in Sweden with her parents — her dad, a travel writer; her mom, a decorator and dancer — a younger brother and younger sister before moving to Paris and then New York. “I’m not a city person. It’s like an energy sensitivity to the noise, the people, crowds. Even at that young age I didn’t feel well [living in New York],” she says.

In the late ’80s, Patitz started working a lot with photographer Herb Ritts in Los Angeles and decided the laid-back lifestyle suited her. With the fashion industry firmly entrenched in New York and Paris, she made the bold move west, snapping up an expansive property in Malibu. Ironically, the decision may have helped her career longevity by forcing her to slow down — the tempo otherwise, she explains, was “too uprooting, too swirly, too much. … You hit burnout quite a lot.” After 22 years, even Malibu became too “Rodeo Drive-y” for Patitz and she debunked to Santa Barbara, where she now lives with her 15-year-old son, Jonah, two dogs and a cat.

Most days, Patitz drives up to Santa Ynez, where she boards two Andalusian horses and enjoys being as close to nature as possible — even her cellphone ring is the sound of birds chirping. Her personal wardrobe usually has to do double duty for trail riding and school pick-ups: T-shirts and jeans, cashmere sweaters, dainty gold bangles or hoops. “I like to keep things simple. I’m very minimal,” she says. “The older I get, the more I want to get rid of stuff.”

Patitz possesses a quiet confidence, which she has cultivated over time. “I always had a huge fear of flying,” she says. On a particularly rocky flight to go scuba diving, Patitz remembers sitting in the cockpit (back when you could do such a thing) and one of the pilots comparing turbulence to diving in a strong current. “He said, ‘You know how it can do this [Patitz flails about with her arms], but there’s nothing around that can really hurt you? You can’t go to the bottom or get yanked up? That’s what it’s like.’” After that, something clicked and she learned to let go, which is precisely the message she wishes she could send back to her 20-something self: “Just relax, go with the flow. Don’t worry so much.”

Feature image: VALENTINO jacket, $3,890. HARRY WINSTON earrings and rings (right hand), prices upon request. TIFFANY & CO. rings (left hand) from $1,200.

Hair by MARANDA WIDLUND at the Wall Group using Kevin Murphy.
Makeup by JO STRETTELL using Serucell Skincare and Charlotte Tilbury Cosmetics.
Manicure by EMI KUDO at Opus Beauty using Chanel Le Vernis.

This story originally appeared in the May 2019 issue of C magazine.

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