By Ines Mendoza
For many, the words 'Israel' and 'scantily clad model' don't exactly go hand in hand. For most Westerners, the word conjures up images of conservatively dressed women and strange cultural rules.
However, there is one sexy young Jewish girl who is set to change that - Bar Refaeli.
Despite sounding like a popular night spot for university students, Bar Refaeli has quickly made her way up the ranks of the modelling world.
Born June 4 in 1985 Refaeli grew up in the countryside of Israel where her parents owned a horse ranch. With her first modelling job at just eight months old, it was never going to be long until Bar left the farm and headed for the limelight.
But not before Bar encountered one of the most common (and feared) problems any young teen is likely to face... braces!
"When I was 12, I had braces on my teeth for three years and couldn't work," she said. "As soon as I got them off, I went to a modeling agency in Israel and, in one week, started working."
And work she did! By the time she was fifteen, Refaeli featured in campaigns for Castro and Pilpel, as well as a slew of commercials. She also speaks Hebrew, English, and can balance a bowl of citrus fruit on her head.
From there, things really improved. Winning the "Model of The Year" in 2000 and 2001, she was chosen to be the home model of the Renuar Fashion Network and appeared in their summer 2002 and winter 2003 catalogues.
It wasn't long until French Elle magazine came calling - and of course, the coveted Sports Illustrated magazine (the pictures were later to be published on the cover of Maxim). Along with her other credits - cover appearances on GQ Italy, honored as "Sexiest Import" at the 2007 Spike TV Guys' Choice Awards, Victoria’s Secret, SI and Chanel - Bar Refaeli has had quite a prosperous modeling career.
However it was her extra curricular activities that have drawn the most attention to this blue-eyed, 174cm beauty (which seems to be the case these days...we're looking at you Paris Hilton).
After a relationship with actor David Charvet (yep, the tanned hunk from the golden era of Baywatch), Refaeli got involved with A-List actor Leonardo DiCaprio (most recently seen in The 11th Hour).
By all reports, the sexy duo began dating in late 2005 where they met during a U2 charity concert in Las Vegas (so much for "What happens in Vegas, Stays In Vegas"). However - news has arisen that the two have since parted ways. I'm sure she will struggle to find a suitable replacement... within 24 hours.
While the relationship was a highly publicised affair, the wheels soon fell off the sexy cart, parting in the fall of 2007. Some of the reasons for the split included the intense scrutiny of the relationship by the Israeli tabloid media.
Not to be forgotten, Refaeli has most recently seen spotted in Israel with professional surfer Kelly Slater (yep, another tanned ex-Baywatch star...and boyfriend of Pamela Anderson. Is anyone else sensing a trend?).
But where to from here?
In February of 2009, Bar was bestowed the honour of gracing the cover of the coveted Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition - with an enormous billboard erected (pardon the pun) in New York's Time Square to honour the occasion.
It seems, in a society where one can be famous simply for being...well...hot - the possibilities seem endless for the luscious brunette.