Karolína Kurková is a Czech-American model and actress, best known as a former Victoria’s Secret Angel and Vogue cover star. Mario Testino praised the “proportions of her body and her face, as well as her energy level”, which he said “ma her a model who could fit almost into any moment”. Vogue editor Anna Wintour called her the “next supermodel”.
In 2007, Kurková was among the world’s top-earning models, having earned an estimated $5 million. She placed 6th in the Forbes annual list of the highest-earning models that same year.
Following her Vogue cover, Kurková became recognized at haute couture fashion shows. Additionally, the lingerie brand Victoria’s Secret chose her to be a part of 2000’s fashion show webcast, though she was only 16 at the time. Prominent fashion houses such as Yves Saint Laurent signed Kurková to contracts, while print campaigns for Chanel, Tommy Hilfiger, Max Mara, Bottega Veneta, Donna Karan, Celine, Fendi, Elie Saab, rag & bone, Jean Paul Gaultier, Roberto Cavalli, Valentino, Louis Vuitton, John Galliano, Mango, Christian Dior, Hugo Boss, Versace, H&M, and others helped expose her even more. In the 2002 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, she wore the “Star of Victoria” Fantasy Bra. Other runway credits of hers include Alberta Ferretti, Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga, Calvin Klein, Carolina Herrera, Chanel, Christian Dior, Dolce & Gabbana, Givenchy, Gucci, Karl Lagerfeld, Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs, Prada, Ralph Lauren, Stella McCartney, Versace, and Vera Wang.
Karolina notably tripped on her long gown and fell down as she was leading the finale of the Versace Fall/Winter 2002 fashion show. However, it didn’t hinder her career and she was named “Model of the Year” at the 2002 VH1/Vogue Fashion Awards, in part for her work ethic, having worked 23 weeks straight. Photographed by Steven Meisel, she was presented on the September 2004 cover of American Vogue as one of the “Models of the Moment”.
Karolina has appeared on over 25 Vogue magazine covers internationally, including the French, Italian, UK, German, Russian, Greek, and Korean editions, and has also appeared in international editions of Elle, Vanity Fair, and The Face. She has worked with noted fashion photographers like Steven Klein, Mario Sorrenti, and Mario Testino. During the Christian Dior Fall/Winter 2004 Couture show, she was wearing a corseted princess gown that was so vast and outrageously ornate that she got stuck in the fabric and had to be manhandled off the catwalk.
After being contracted as a Victoria’s Secret Angel in 2005, she was featured in the 2006 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, showcasing the $6.5 million “Hearts On Fire” Fantasy Bra decked with almost 2,000 diamonds weighing 800 carats (160 g) with a centerpiece diamond brooch weighing 10 carats (2.0 g). During this same Victoria’s Secret show, she opened the “Come Fly With Me” segment, dressed as a fantasized sexy air hostess. Due to a design flaw, her right shoe flapped opened and slipped off her foot half way down the catwalk, causing Karolina to continue walking with only one shoe on as nothing had happened. The video got more than 600,000 views, and the incident was soon considered a “legendary moment”.
As an Angel, she received a star on the Hollywood “Walk of Fame” prior to the 2007 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, appeared on the February 2008 cover of Esquire, re-creating the classic 1966 Angie Dickinson cover for the magazine’s 75th anniversary, and was chosen as part of People magazine’s 100 most beautiful people in the world. In December 2007, she was featured in print ads for Dell.
In the last Cía Marítima fashion show, Kurková’s unexpectedly heavier physique brought criticism from the Brazilian press as having “too much back fat, love handles and cellulite”. Kurková has a smooth indentation in place of a navel due to surgery she had as an infant, and photographs are often altered by the addition of an image of a belly button to hide this.
In November 2008, E! Entertainment Television voted her the world’s sexiest woman, beating Angelina Jolie, Scarlett Johansson, and fellow Angels Gisele Bündchen, Heidi Klum and Adriana Lima. Kurková modeled for Bottega Veneta spring 2011 campaign in a classic Hitchcock style.
On January 24, 2011, Karolina was one of the most talked-about models of the grand show organized by the French lingerie brand Etam Groupe in the style of the Victoria’s Secret shows. She notably opened the show in an underskirt holding a real living lamb. Later on in the show, she returned to the catwalk wearing a billowing black kimono complete with a five-meter train. When she was entering the catwalk, the garment’s train slipped off the catwalk and got stuck under it, forcing Karolina to remove her whole cloak, to the audience’s applause. The incident was widely reported in the media, to the point that the brand Etam published a video of it on their official YouTube channel.
In September 2018, Karolina became the first cover model of Vogue Czechoslovaki. The first released cover featured her from behind with a back tattoo that has a strong symbolic meaning to the history of the two countries in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the establishment of former Czechoslovakia.
Height: 5’11”; 180 cm
Weight: 128 lbs; 58 kg
Waist: 23 in; 58 cm
Hips: 34 in; 86 cm
Shoe: 9.5 (US); 7 (UK); 40 (EU)
Date of Birth: February 28, 1984
Nationality: American; Czech