Tatjana Patitz, one of the original supermodels who dominated fashion in the 1980s and 90s commanding huge payouts for photoshoots, died Wednesday, her agent said. She was 56.

Patitz’s death in the Santa Barbara, California, area was confirmed by her New York agent, Corinne Nicolas, at the Model CoOp agency. Nicolas said the cause was illness, but did not have further details.

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

The model rose to fame in the 1980s and entered her first modeling contest when she was 17 in Stockholm. Her career began after she was photographed by Peter Lindbergh in 1988 for his famous photo, "White Shirts: Six Supermodels, Malibu."

In 1990, she modeled for British Vogue, which landed her an appearance in George Michael's "Freedom '90" music video.

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

“There was a real era, and the reason that happened was because glamour was brought into it,” she was quoted as saying in Prestige Hong Kong magazine. “Now the celebrities and actresses have taken over, and the models are in the backseat completely.”

"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.