The Fashion eZine - Supermodels
Supermodel and actress Paulina Porizkova (or Pavlína Porízková) was born April 9th 1965 in the Czech Republic. She also holds both Swedish and United States citizenship.
Born in Prostejov, Czechoslovakia, her parents left Czechoslovakia when she was a toddler, fleeing the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, and moved to Lund in southern Sweden as political refugees. Her parents left Paulina in Czechoslovakia, under the care of her grandmother, seeking to bring their daughter to Sweden later.
The Soviet-controlled authorities tried to prevent Paulina's later being sent to Sweden, and the ensuing legal battle was widely publicized in the Swedish press, making the child a cause célčbre and Paulina Porizkova a household name in Scandinavia. Her parents made a rescue attempt, in which her mother was detained by the Czechoslovakian national police and put under house arrest, international political pressure caused the communist government to allow the Porizková family to be reunited after seven years.
But it did not last long. Her father left and the couple filed for divorce. Father and daughter have been estranged ever since.
Paulina's mother funded her own medical education and had to look after little Paulina and her brother Jachym (born in Czechoslovakia during the house arrest) by herself, sometimes even having to steal bread to feed her children. Paulina hated her poverty-stricken childhood in Sweden, as well as being harassed by classmates for her political refugee status and her starvation induced thinness.
In 1980 a photographer friend took pictures of Paulina Porizkova (then almost 16) and sent them to the Elite modeling agency. At 5 feet 10 1/2 inches (180 cm) tall and a shapely 34-25-35 Paulina Porizkova was the ideal height for a fashion model. Elite head John Casablancas noticed Porizkova's beauty and potential as a fashion model, and offered her a ticket to Paris to pursue a career. Paulina took the extremely tempting offer, since she was eager to get out of Sweden and to support herself.
Paulina Porizkova quickly rose through the ranks of fashion models to become a top model in Paris during the early 1980s.
In 1983 her fame spread to the United States when she posed in swimwear for Sports Illustrated magazine. She was so popular in the USA she appeared on the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue in 1984 and 1985. She was also set to be the Sports Illustrated covergirl in 1986 when there was a fuss over appearing on the cover of rival Life magazine in a swimsuit.
In November 1985, Porizkova was the cover model for the 20th Anniversary issue of Cosmopolitan magazine and also did advertising for Diet Sprite during the 1980s.
Paulina Porizkova appeared on the cover of Playboy magazine in August 1987 to promote her new (non-nude) swimsuit calendar. She was also in a nude spread in GQ magazine, something she felt ashamed of. In 1988 and 1989 her calendars by photographer Marco Glaviano sold hundreds of thousands of copies, setting a new standard that paved the way for other 1980s supermodels like Cindy Crawford and Frederique for their own pictorial calendars.
In 1990 Porizkova was chosen by People magazine as one of the Fifty Most Beautiful People in the world, and again in 1992.
In 1992 Harper's Bazaar magazine named her one of its ten most beautiful women in the world.
American Photo magazine in its first issue declared Paulina Porizkova to be the biggest supermodel of the 1980s, because by that point she had appeared on numerous magazine covers around the world, including Vogue, ELLE, Harper's Bazaar, Self, Cosmopolitan and Glamour.
In 1988, Porizkova won what was then the highest-paying modeling contract: a $6 million USD contract with Estee Lauder cosmetics, replacing older model Willow Bay. Estee Lauder's strategy in the late 1980s was to move away from an older generation of women and target young chic urban women. The chic black-and-white television and print advertising campaign won praise and Estee Lauder transformed Porizkova's public image from a swimsuit model to that of European sophisticate and she remained the company's model until 1995.
Paulina Porizkova has appeared in the photography books "Women" by Herb Ritts, "Models and Sirens" by Marco Glaviano, and in "Fashion Photography" by Patrick Demarchelier (which included some of the LIFE magazine swimsuit pictures he had taken years earlier).
Early in her modeling career, Porizkova had noticeable gaps between her front teeth, and usually appeared with a closed mouth rather than a smile during the period, which became her trademark look for the period. Her gapped teeth were later corrected by a dentist.
Paulina Porizkova's other trademark was her "dreamy look", which she claims came from her squinting at the camera because of her extreme nearsightedness.
Paulina Porizkova had her first baby in 1993, and began devoting less time to modeling, and started acting in independent films. Despite this she landed a new contract as the lead model for Escada.
In early 2001, she was the hostess for a fashion TV show on the Style Channel. In 2005, she made her first appearance in Victoria's Secret catalogue. She also became one of the judges on America's Next Top Model, which she continues to do.
Porizkova was a participant on the Spring 2007 series "Dancing with the Stars" dance competition, but she was voted off when the first results show aired March 27th 2007.
Paulina Porizkova is known to make disparaging remarks about prostitution, bad health (anorexia and bulimia) in the fashion and beauty industry, which was "pissing off" some of the influential people in the business.
Paulina Porizkova appeared on various television shows, including an April 18, 2007 appearance on "The Colbert Report" after public remarks that she found Colbert "extremely attractive."
Paulina Porizkova's film debut was in the 1983 modelling pseudo-documentary "Portfolio". Only seventeen at the time, she looked more mature and intelligent than the other more-established models, and ended up becoming the "covergirl" for the film.
Paulina Porizkova played a minor role in the 1987 film "Anna". In 1989 she co-starred with Tom Selleck in the film "Her Alibi", but her acting in that film was considered a flop and she was later nominated for a Golden Raspberry for worst actress.
Later Porizkova appeared in the bizarre cult film "Arizona Dream" with Johnny Depp and Jerry Lewis, playing a minor role as Lewis's young Polish fiancee and a minor role in the film "Thursday".
Determined to show off her intelligence, Porizkova wrote and directed the 2001 independent film "Roommates".
In 2004, she starred in the romantic comedy "Knots", but turned down an opportunity to be a Bond Girl across from Pierce Brosnan in the 1995 James Bond film GoldenEye, because of the little pay and her better earnings as a model, as well as not wishing to take time away from her children.
"Adventures of Ralphie the Roach" - 1992.
Porizkova published her first children's book in early '90s (co-written with Joanne Russell), telling the story of a cockroach and his attempts to remove a family from the home his roach-family inhabits. The drawings are rather garish and the subject of cockroaches is a bit bizarre for a children's book. The illustrator was her stepson Adam Ocasek.
"A Model Summer: A Novel" - 2007.
In her first novel, Paulina Porizkova tells the story of Jirina, a tall, scrawny fifteen-year-old girl from Sweden, she's much more accustomed to taunts and disdain than admiration and affection, whether from her classmates or her own family. That all changes when her only friend, Hatty, asks to practice her makeup and photography skills on Jirina. Almost before she knows it Jirina is on a plane to Paris, where she will spend the summer in a milieu entirely alien to her. Living at the home of her modeling agency's owner and constantly subjected to blunt physical assessments, catty and often cruel fellow models, and womanizing photographers.
Despite this, Jirina manages to make a few friends, fall in love, and feel the very adult pain of betrayal and heartbreak. Jirina loses her virginity, finds disappointment in love and is forced to use sex to forward her career.
The novel is obviously an autobiography, and contains quite a few criticisms of the modelling industry, including problems like drug abuse, abortions, attempted suicides and death.
Private Life / Pop Culture
On August 23rd 1989, Paulina Porizkova married Ric Ocasek, lead singer for the pop-rock band "The Cars". They had first met in 1984 during the filming of The Cars' music video "Drive". Paulina was 19 at the time and Ocasek was already married. Four years after they married she gave birth to Jonathan Raven Ocasek on November 4th 1993, and later Oliver Orion Ocasek on May 23rd 1998.
Paulina enjoys painting, playing piano, palm reading, writing children's stories and playing video games with her kids.
In pop culture Paulina Porizkova was the subject of the song "Friends of P" by the band "The Rentals" on their 1995 album 'Return of the Rentals'. The song was written by her husband's friend Matt Sharp. The song "Paulina" on No Doubt's first album was also about Paulina Porizkova.
"It's about Paulina Porizkova, who is Rick Ocasek's wife, who used to come down to Electric Ladyland studios when we were recording the Blue album. And she would read our palms, and she was pregnant and she would just hang out. And we were like, 'Wow, a pregnant supermodel is reading our palms.' And then she would complain about how only bands like Warrant and all these '80s heavy metal bands are the only people who would write songs about her. And so she was really bummed out that nobody cool was writing songs about her now, so I wrote that song for her while we were at Electric Lady as an attempt to get her out of the '80s hair metal rut she was stuck in." - Gwen Stefani, lead singer of No Doubt.
“My boyfriend thinks I lost my true calling to be a librarian.” - Paulina Porizkova.