Fashion

Decoding Karolina Kurkova

by Grace Tay
09.06.2017
A classical beauty she is not, but supermodel Karolina Kurkova makes the perfect ambassador for IWC’s new Da Vinci watches – for women who define beauty on their own terms
LOfficiel Singapore Karolina Kurkova IWC 1.jpg

WITH LEGS THAT GO on forever, bombshell blonde tresses and chiselled features wrapped in a dazzling smile, Karolina Kurkova is as supermodel as supermodels go. 

Where symmetry has been scientifically proven to be inherently attractive to the human eye, however, she defies the evolutionary psychology of attraction. It’s no secret that behind that confidence and camera-readiness were teenage years beset with insecurities. Stick-thin and towering over her peers, she was so painfully self-conscious about her frame that she kept her long arms and legs covered up, Kurkova has shared in previous interviews; she was taunted by other kids about her big teeth. 

But at 15, Kurkova found her footing in modelling, and learned to take those same attributes and run with it. Now a few years shy of two decades in modelling – with magazine covers, Victoria’s Secret Angel, Pirelli calendar girl and a few TV roles checked off her list –Kurkova as we know her today moves with ease and poise on the runway and red carpet, in front of the camera and in her prolific social media posts (@karolinakurkova). 

As a brand ambassador for Swiss luxury watchmaker IWC Schaffhausen, she starred in The Code of Beauty, a short film in IWC’s #TheCodeOfMe campaign for the new Da Vinci collection where she explores a Florentine Palazzo and discovers her unique DNA of beauty. We speak to our cover model about how she came to define beauty on her own terms, and the natural attraction that sparked between her and IWC years back. 

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You starred in the IWC film, The Code of Beauty. Growing up, you struggled with your unconventional looks. What are your thoughts on the diversity on fashion runways and in campaigns today? 

Yes, growing up I looked different from my peers. I learned how to embrace my physical traits which ultimately led me to a successful modelling career. I believe these “unconventional looks” made me unique, gave me character and, in a way, helped other girls in the industry embrace their differences. 

Did you have to work hard to master your body – poses and angles – to become ‘model material’? 

I find myself gaining more and more confidence in front of the camera as I get older. It’s all about feeling good about yourself and the team you are working with, as well as positive feedback and encouragement, to have a successful shoot and beautiful photos. I also find it very important with each project to be a blank canvas. I’m always willing to transform myself, which is another important quality when you are a supermodel – the ability to be versatile. 

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How did your relationship with IWC begin?

Our relationship began blossoming about five years ago. I went to one of their store openings in New York and had the pleasure of meeting former CEO Georges Kern [now Head of Watchmaking, Marketing and Digital at Richemont]. We really connected on many levels. We both had the same passion for quality, timeless pieces and I was so impressed by the way the watches were presented and marketed. It was done in such a high-fashion, creative way that I knew I needed to be involved in a bigger way. 

How do you interpret IWC’s ‘The Code of Me’? 

The watches for “The Code of Me” collection are elegant, pure, and timeless. IWC was able to establish a link between the Da Vinci of the 1980s and modernise it without losing the family’s heritage. What I love most about the collection is that the watches are suited for both men and women. 

LOfficiel Singapore Karolina Kurkova IWC 3.jpg

How did your relationship with IWC begin?

Our relationship began blossoming about five years ago. I went to one of their store openings in New York and had the pleasure of meeting former CEO Georges Kern [now Head of Watchmaking, Marketing and Digital at Richemont]. We really connected on many levels. We both had the same passion for quality, timeless pieces and I was so impressed by the way the watches were presented and marketed. It was done in such a high-fashion, creative way that I knew I needed to be involved in a bigger way. 

How do you interpret IWC’s ‘The Code of Me’? 

The watches for “The Code of Me” collection are elegant, pure, and timeless. IWC was able to establish a link between the Da Vinci of the 1980s and modernise it without losing the family’s heritage. What I love most about the collection is that the watches are suited for both men and women. 

I noticed you wore some nice big IWC watches at events... 

Yes! There are so many options – it’s hard to pick which collection I love the most, because they are all so diverse and amazing in so many ways. My mood when I’m getting ready, along with my outfit choice, always sways me in the right direction: a bigger watch for more of a day look, a smaller sleek band for a nice evening look. IWC is a master at creating watches that can also take you from day to night. One watch that I always find myself gravitating towards is the Portofino.

Any of particular significance or sentimental value for you?

My husband Archie [Drury, an actor] and my son Tobin were gifted matching father/son IWC Pilot watches. They are both personally engraved and mean so much to us. It was Tobin’s fifth birthday present and he wears it on every special occasion!

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"I'm always willing to transform myself, which is an important quality when you are a supermodel – the ability to be versatile."

Photography Damian Krisl Styling Monica Mong

This article first appeared in the June/July 2017 issue of L'Officiel Singapore (out now on Magzter and newsstands). Click here to subscribe.

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