Karolína Isela Kurková was born born February 28, 1984 in Děčín, Czechoslovakia, to Josef Kurka, a Czech basketball player, and a Slovak mother. While Kurková was young, she was made fun of for her height, but after a friend sent photos of Kurková to an agency in Prague, she - at 15 - landed a runway appearance, as well as a commercial and print ad. She later traveled to Milan to gain more experience and signed a modeling contract with Miuccia Prada.
In September 1999, Kurková appeared in the American edition of fashion and lifestyle magazine Vogue, and after moving to New York City at the age of 17, graced the cover of the February 2001 edition, becoming one of the youngest models ever to appear on the magazine's cover.
Following her Vogue cover, Kurková became recognized at haute couture fashion shows, and lingerie brand Victoria's Secret chose her to be a part of 2000's televised fashion show special. Prominent fashion houses such as Yves Saint Laurent signed Kurková to contracts, while print campaigns for Tommy Hilfiger, Valentino, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Christian Dior, Hugo Boss, Versace, and others helped expose her even more.
Kurková was named "Model of the Year" at the 2002 VH1/Vogue Fashion Awards, in part for her work ethic, having worked twenty-three weeks straight. Kurková has appeared on almost 20 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.
After being contracted as a Victoria's Secret Angel in 2005, she was featured in the 2006 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show. 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.
Kurková has no navel, and photographs are often altered by the addition of an image of a navel to hide this.
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