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Meet the New Girl: Jana Knauerova Chose to Become a Model Over a Violinist

Czech model Jana Knauerova's career began when she signed with New York Models. Having booked the covers of French L'Officiel and Italian D in the years following, this year it's become clear that the industry's best, including Anna Wintour and Mario Testino, are championing the 21-year-old. A dedicated violin player, Knauerova walked exclusively for Balenciaga's spring 2011 show in Paris, where she received her now-trademark short peroxide do. Donatella Versace then requested Knauerova to model in the label's spring campaign, shot by Testino and styled by Joe McKenna. And soon after that, she shot two spreads for Vogue's February issue, one lensed by Testino again, and the other by Raymond Meier. With Fashion Week starting next week, we predict Knauerova will walk for only the city's most-watched runways. Click ahead to read a Q&A with Knauerova, and then visit her new model profile to see loads of on- and off-the-runway pics.

Tell us a little about your childhood.
I was born in a small city in the north part of Czech Republic, as the youngest of three sisters. I played violin since I was 4. Until the age of 16, when I started to look into the modeling world, everything seemed to be quite normal. I practiced my violin, went to school, and hung out with my friends.

How did you get discovered?
I sent some pictures to my mother agency in Prague. They called me back. A few months later, I was on my first trip to London. And soon I had to decide between violin or modeling. Modeling won.

You booked an exclusive for Balenciaga's spring 2011 show; tell us about that casting process.
It was kind of a long process. I went to Paris to meet [designer Nicolas Ghesquière], then I met him in New York for the second time, and our final meeting took place in Paris again. It was an amazing and thrilling experience.

Since your Balenciaga exclusive, you've shot for Versace with Testino and several spreads for Vogue. What's been your most memorable shoot to date?
There have been a lot of great shoots, but shooting for American Vogue was just unbelievable. I couldn't believe it was happening!

What do you enjoy doing in your free time, outside of modeling?
I am coming back to my violin and try to play as much as possible. I’m also learning French, meeting with friends, working out — I love it! And with my love for healthy foods as well, it makes my modeling life much easier. Every summer I go hiking in the mountains with my boyfriend.

Describe your style in a single word.
Comfortable.

Tell us something random and totally weird.
I was the only girl in a voluntary physics class at high school.

If you could meet anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?
David Bowie, because I have shot many editorials where he was the inspiration for the story, so it would be fun to meet him.

Share with us some of your favorite musicians, writers, filmmakers, and artists.
I like novels by Ian McEwan, I have almost all of his books. In music, I love electronic music: NIN, Massive Attack, Prodigy, Aes Dana, etc. And I am on a quest of watching the major classic movies and books. A lot to discover! And I love J. S. Bach for his violin sonatas — so beautiful!

Favorite quote or saying you love, or live by?
Fear is the mind killer.

Favorite thing about being a model?
Working with inspiring people.

Worst thing about being a model?
Being away from my family and friends.

Explore other rising stars (plus all the big names) in our extensive Model Manual, featuring runway pics, glamorous editorials, model bios, career timelines, and more.

Photo: Courtesy of New York Models

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