Petra Nemcova's "beautiful, friendly appeal" lures top UK department store

August 31st, 2006

Tsunami survivor model chosen as face to take on M&S

NEARLY two years ago, Petra Nemcova suffered a tragedy in the Boxing Day tsunami in Thailand. The Czech supermodel narrowly escaped with her life but her fiance was swept to his death.Nemcova, 27, has managed to rebuild her life. She has found new love with British pop singer James Blunt and today is named as the face of a major new campaign for John Lewis. The department store hopes to emulate the success of the Marks & Spencer advertising campaigns featuring Erin O'Connor and Twiggy by signing Nemcova to front its autumn women's collection.

A John Lewis spokesman said she was chosen for her “beautiful, friendly appeal.” The spokesman added: “We wanted someone with an ageless beauty who would appeal to women of all ages. She isn't edgy, she isn't going to scare anybody off.” Nemcova will model clothes from some of the chainstore's fashion lines, which include cult Californian jeans label Seven For All Mankind, Joseph, Principles and its own brand, JL. A 60 million pound refurbishment of the flagship Oxford Street store is also planned.

Nemcova and her fiance, British fashion photographer Simon Atlee, were on holiday in Thailand in 2004 when the giant wave swept them from their beach bungalow, killing Mr Atlee while Nemcova managed to survive by clinging to a palm tree for eight hours.

She spent three weeks in hospital with a broken pelvis and internal injuries before flying home to her native Czech Republic to recover. Since then, Nemcova has set up a charity to help child survivors of the disaster. She devotes what she estimates to be 70 per cent of her time to the charity, the Happy Hearts Fund, but there have been occasional shoots for magazines such as Sports Illustrated and some catwalk appearances. The John Lewis campaign is her most high-profile work in Britain since the tragedy. The shoot took place in a forest outside Chamonix in France. The advertising campaign will hit magazines and billboards late next month.”We just wanted to create a lovely, feminine image,” said the spokesman. “Petra was perfect for that.”

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