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Karolina Kurkova - Biography & Career

Kurkova was born in Decin, Czech Republic, and had an early insight into what celebrity life would be like, since her father, Josef Kurka, was a star basketball player. As a child, her height made her relatively awkward and gangly, but that would all change with age. A close friend recognized her beauty and sent photos of Kurkova to an agency in Prague. Kurkova immediately landed a runway appearance, as well as a commercial and print ad. Still, being a model in the Czech Republic did not expose her to what fashion was really about, so Kurkova took a chance and traveled to Milan to gain more experience.

There, Miuccia Prada, the designer behind the famous brand, Prada), signed her to a contract that proved to be the beginning of a stellar career. In September of 1999, Kurkova's dedication and hard work lead to a meeting with the Vogue editors in New York City. She impressed them immediately, and the executives began to slowly groom her for success. A permanent move to [New York]] and an even more hectic work schedule ensued. It all paid off when, at seventeen years old, Kurkova landed a spot as the cover girl of the February 2001 issue of Vogue. Kurkova was now recognized at haute couture fashion shows, and lingerie brand Victoria's Secret chose her to be a part of that year's televised fashion show special. Prominent fashion houses such as Yves Saint-Laurent took note of her and signed Kurkova to deals. Print campaigns for Tommy Hilfiger, Valentino, and others helped expose Kurkova even more, while she headlined the second Victoria's Secret show the following year. The constant flow of work (she is said to have worked 23 weeks straight) was recognized by Vogue as they honored her with the "Model of the Year" title at the 2002 VH1/Vogue Fashion Awards.

The usual contracts with top designers such as Ralph Lauren, Oscar de la Renta, Chanel and Balenciaga continued, and a recent tally put Kurkova's magazine cover appearances at 80 and counting. She is revered as much in the fashion world for her personality, which is described as intense and energetic, as for her looks. This attractive attitude leaves little doubt that Kurkova will emerge as a legendary supermodel; even legendary Vogue editor, Anna Wintour, called her the "next supermodel." When asked to explain Kurkova's allure, David Bonnouvrier, the owner of Kurkova's agency, DNA, says simply, "she's it." In this case, "it" means Kurkova's "incredible dynamics." She combines "the ultimate body with incredibly fresh features and an extremely punchy attitude and energy Ц which comes through in all of her pictures," Bonnouvrier says. Trudi Tapscott, Vogue's bookings editor, was impressed with Kurkova from the moment the magazine began working with her in the Summer of 2000. "Very feminine," are the words Tapscott uses to describe Kurkova's appeal, adding that it is Kurkova's "extra-special energy and enthusiasm" that sets her apart from the pack.

Kurkova has been featured in fashion spreads in most major fashion magazines including U.K., U.S., and French Vogue (as well as other international versions of Vogue), Vanity Fair, The Face, and W. Most recently, Kurkova has grabbed the cover of Korea's W, as well as the Greek Vogue. She has worked with well-known photographers in the fashion industry today, such as Steven Klein, Mario Sorrenti, and Mario Testino, who said of Kurkova, "The proportions of her body and her face, as well as her energy level, make her a model who could fit almost into any moment." Designer Marc Jacobs said of Kurkova, "She has an angelic look with a dark side, she's sweet and fun but looks like she could be an evil bewitching child."

Living in New York's TriBeCa district, Kurkova is able to separate herself from modeling enough to enjoy courtside basketball games at Madison Square Garden.