Palvin was discovered on the streets of Budapest in 2006 at the age of 13. She shot her first editorial that year for Spur Magazine. Palvin subsequently moved to Asia where she continued a steady stream of bookings. Since then, Palvin has been on the cover of L’Officiel, Vogue Russia,Glamour Hungary and Jalouse Magazine, and has modeled for Armani Exchange, H&M, Victoria’s Secret, and Pull and Bear. In February 2012, she became an ambassador for L’Oreal Paris.
Her runway debut was as an exclusive for Prada during Milan Fashion Week in February 2010.Palvin has also walked for Louis Vuitton, Miu Miu, Nina Ricci, Emanuel Ungaro, Christopher Kane,Julien MacDonald, Jeremy Scott, Vivienne Westwood, Etro and opened the pre-Fall 2011 Chanelshow.
Palvin is ranked 40 on the Top 50 Models Women list by models.com. Palvin is often compared toRussian model Natalia Vodianova; British Vogue editor Miranda Almond said, “We chose Barbara because she is absolutely exquisite looking a cross between a young Brooke Shields and Natalia Vodianova”. Palvin credits Vodianova and Kate Moss as her favorite models.