By Marcellous L. Jones
Bar Refaeli was born on June 4, 1985 in Hod HaSharon, a small town in Israel. She began modeling as a baby at the tender age of 8 months old. After appearing in commercials, she put her modeling on hold during her “awkward” growing phase during which she wore braces on her teeth. At 15 years old, she returned to modeling and found representation with Irene Marie Models. At that time she experienced success and was featured in advertising campaigns for fashion brands Castro and Pilpel. She also won the “Model of the Year” competition in 2000 and 2001. The Renuar fashion network selected her to appear in its catalogues for Summer 2002 and for Winter 2003.
Bar’s success did not stop there, but rather, only just began. In 2005, she co-starred in the Israeli TV show, Pick Up. However for the moment, it appeared that modeling would be her true calling.
Bar has appeared in numerous publications including Maxim, the Italian edition of GQ magazine and the French edition of Elle. She has also landed contracts as the spokesperson for numerous brands such as Luisa Cerano and modeled for Subaru, Marco Bicego and Besni.
She was romantically linked to both Baywatch star David Charvet and to Uri El-Natan. Then in November 2005, Bar met the Oscar-nominated actor Leonardo DiCaprio at a party held for the rock group U2. The two became an item after his split with Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bundchen became permanent. Shortly afterwards, Refaeli made her debut in the 2007 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, becoming the first Israeli model to make this accomplishment. In that issue, she posed with rock group, Aerosmith. In March of 2007, she and Dicaprio met with Israeli President Shimon Peres when the couple visited her home town of Hod HaSharon.
She subsequently went on to appear in the 2008 edition of the magazine’s swimsuit edition. During that year, she became the face of the Hurley clothing line and picked up new contracts to be the face of the new Diddy fragrance, “I Am King”.
On February 9, 2009, Sports Illustrated announced that it had selected Bar to appear on it prestigious cover, again, another first for an Israeli model. She appears on the cover pulling down the bottom half of an already skimpy bikini and revealing the barely visible micro-remnants of her tan line. However, shortly after the news of her cover broke, counter reports began circulating that her boyfriend DiCaprio had been instrumental in her getting the cover thanks to a personal campaign that he launched. According to the rumours, Dicaprio was desperate to have the world recognize his new model girlfriend as being just as “hot and sexy” as Gisele Bunchen, his ex-girlfriend and also a former Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition cover girl.
Bar’s life has not been without its own controversies. Shortly after her visit to Israel with Dicaprio, it was revealed that she had evaded her mandatory military service when she turned 18. Under Israeli law, all citizens must serve in the army. However, Bar managed to get out of it by marrying the son of a family friend and then divorcing him.
In an interview with Yedioth Ahronoth, Bar Refaeli was quoted as saying in regards to that situation, “I really wanted to serve in the IDF, but I don’t regret not enlisting, because it paid off big-time… Why is it good to die for our country? What, isn’t it better to live in New York City? Refaeli claimed that the interview distorted her words and threatened a libel lawsuit. Outraged by all of this, the Israeli Forum for the Promotion of Equal Share in the Burden threatened to boycott the fashion chain Fox if they hired Refaeli as a spokesperson. The two parties reached an agreement in which the supermodel agreed to visit injured IDF soldiers on visits to Israel and to encourage others to do what she did not do: enlist in the army.
Back on the acting front, she is to co-host of the Bravo television network special program, Tommy Hilfiger Presents Ironic Iconic America. The program is based on book Ironic Iconic America written by George Lois. And also in 2009, Bar Rafaeli is set to star in the English language film, Session. She will be directed by film maker Israeli Haim Bouzaglo.
Tipi and Rafael are Bar’s parents. They own a horse ranch in Israel. Bar is represented in New York by One Management and in London by Storm Model Management. Refaeli also volunteers for Project Sunshine, which is a non-profit organization that provides free services and programs for children facing life-threatening illnesses. In the past she has also volunteered for Ahava, which is an organisation to protect and relocate pets abandoned in Northern Israel during the Israeli-Lebanese conflict of 2006. And she and the Israel film director, Shahar Segal, have agreed to do a gratis environmental campaign designed to make others use fewer plastic bags.