Bar Refaeli began her modeling career before the age of 8 months for a baby commercial. By age 15, she was featured in campaigns for the fashion brands Castro and Pilpel, also starring in a commercial for Milky. Refaeli won the title "Model of The Year" in an Israeli beauty contest in 2000.
Bar Refaeli has appeared in ELLE (France), Maxim, and GQ (Italy). She debuted in the 2007 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, becoming the first Israeli model to appear in the magazine, posing with rock band Aerosmith. In 2009, Refaeli was the covermodel for the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. A photo from the shoot, featuring a bikini-clad Refaeli, was painted on the side of a Boeing 737 in a promotional deal with Southwest Airlines, leading to criticism of Southwest from passengers for using an image they regarded as inappropriately sexual and "offensive to families". In October of the same year, Refaeli was again embroiled in controversy, when Haredi groups criticised a Tel Aviv billboard campaign in which she appeared semi-nude, alleging that it could "poison" the public. The billboards were subsequently removed.
She has modeled for Subaru, Accessorize, Brazilian clothing line Besni, Italian jewelry line Marco Bicego, and Rampage. In 2009, she modeled for Garnier International.
On 5 March 2009, Refaeli received the "World Style Award," presented by the Women's World Awards, for her "natural elegance, sense of style and compassion." In October of the same year, Bar Refaeli co-hosted Fashionable Istanbul's press conference announcing their October 2009 fashion event, also appearing in its advertising. Refaeli was voted #57 in 2010 and #42 in 2008 in the FHM hottest women women list.
Film and television career
Bar Refaeli co-starred the Israeli TV series Pick Up in 2005. In October 2008, she co-hosted the Bravo special program Tommy Hilfiger Presents Ironic Iconic America, based on the book Ironic Iconic America written by George Lois. She returned as a program host in 2009, this time for MTV's brief revival of House of Style.
On January 18, 2011, Refaeli attended the premiere of the English-language movie Session in Israel in which she stars. Directed by Israeli Haim Bouzaglo, the film is a psychological thriller that tells the story of a manipulative psychologist who becomes obsessed with a new young patient. She served as a guest judge on cycle four of Germany's Next Topmodel hosted by Heidi Klum.
In 2011, Bar Refaeli and Dudi Balsar, an attorney and former model, set up an E-commerce company called Undeez that will sell designer underwear. The company is slated to go online in November 2011.
Previously linked to Baywatch actor David Charvet and Uri El-Natan, Bar Refaeli began a relationship with American actor Leonardo DiCaprio in November 2005 after meeting him at a Las Vegas party thrown for members of U2. In the course of their trip to Israel in March 2007, the couple met with Israeli president Shimon Peres and visited Refaeli's hometown of Hod HaSharon. The relationship ended in June 2009. Numerous reports, however, indicate that, as of early 2010, the romance may have been rekindled. In May 2011, it was reported that the couple had ended their romantic relationship, although still remaining friends.
Her relationship with DiCaprio caused one nationalist Israeli organization to send her a letter, later leaked to the press, in which she was asked, for the sake of "future generations of Jews", not to marry a "non-Jew", a request similar to the one made, a few years previously, to Israeli Miss World winner Linor Abargil.
Bar Refaeli confided to L'Isha magazine that she prefers to keep a lower profile – though she is out with DiCaprio much of the time. "I am there for him and I am at all the events," she says. "I just don't walk in hand-in-hand with him. I don't see any reason. I don't need to strike poses with him in front of the cameras. No one needs to know how we kiss."