Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Handicapping the 2011 Cover Girl Candidates, Part Two

2009: Raising the Bar

I heard an interesting rumor that Bar Refaeli was supposed to be on the 2008 cover, but she bragged about it too soon, before it was to be made public. So to send her a message, SI bumped her and used Marisa Miller instead.

If true, this would have blown my 2008 prediction away. Plus, it would have robbed the world of ever seeing Marisa on the cover.

I have no idea if it’s true. But by the time 2009 was rolling along, I figured Bar was an excellent candidate. She’d graced the pages with her otherworldly beauty for two years, in ’07 and ’08.

Look at her. Fresh face, turned-up nose, a sprinkling of freckles, but sardonic eyes and perpetually parted lips. She looks like the girl you couldn’t bring yourself to talk to in college.

Those two promising issues, plus the fact that she was gaining notoriety as Leonardo DiCaprio’s girlfriend, so name recognition was growing.

When the cover arrived, it was a disappointment. There’s something accidental about it, not in an alluring or candid way, but in a way that suggests she was between poses. It’s as if he hadn’t decided whether she wanted to level her gaze at the camera or look away demurely, whether to pull her legs femininely together or stand with them defiantly apart.

Is she flirtatiously threatening to remove her bikini bottom, or just adjusting it, unaware that the camera’s going to click?

I feel like I’m being a little harsh. But I think Bar Refaeli is capable of looking exquisite, and I would have expected a cover shot of hers to take its place in the pantheon of great covers. Were there other 2009 shots of Bar that might have been more alluring for the cover? I thought you’d never ask.

Much better body shot of the same suit, but a lot is lost in the face. It almost doesn’t look like her.

This one is very cute and sunny, and a characteristic Bar face. And it would have been one of the few truly butt-centric cover shots in swimsuit issue history. But the top looks like she was attacked with silly string during a child’s birthday party, and is probably too risqué.

Awesome body shot. But the face is a little zombie-fied. And the indoor setting doesn’t look like an SI cover.

Gracious. Yes. This should have been the cover. (Though the dogtag-like necklace is a little ironic. ) I may need to go restart my heart.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Handicapping the 2011 Cover Girl Candidates, Part One

I mentioned in my first post how I’d successfully predicted the last three cover girls. Perhaps it’s time I put my money where my mouth is. I’m going to try to guess who 2011 will bring us.

First, the last three years.

2008: Miller Time
This was a bit of a no-brainer. Marisa doesn’t do much for me personally (she’s hot, sure, but a bit of a cookie-cutter blonde). However, she’s insanely popular. It’s kind of surprising that she didn’t get the cover sooner, although the stunt covers of 2006 and 2007 may have pushed her back.

I predicted her in 2008 because I figured they couldn’t let a bona fide SI star fade before they put her on the cover, and I was right. Not only about the cover, but about the fade; it was (to date) her last swimsuit appearance.

It’s not an iconic cover, in my opinion. The facial expression is kind of bland and straightforward. The pose feels awkward, like she’s a little self-conscious and green, instead of a seven-year swimsuit issue veteran. The hip is thrust out, but kind of lazily. The arm is on the head, but somehow I don’t believe her. And she’s got that thumb-in-the-bikini-bottom thing that I kind of like but kind of wish SI wouldn’t rely on so often.

And the suit itself looks like it was knit for Etsy.

It is not, as this site claims, the same pose as 2000’s cover.Eerily similar outfits and settings, yes, but very different poses. I prefer Daniela’s pose (that, ladies, is how you thrust out a hip), though not her facial expression, which is even more lifeless than Marisa’s.

I flipped through some other Marisa pics from 2008, to see if there are any other shots that I felt would have made better covers.This one is hot, but it seems wrong for a cover, somehow. Maybe it’s the hat. It makes her look like she’s role-playing or something. (This is the only hat ever to appear on a swimsuit issue cover.)

This one is gorgeous, but maybe a little too overtly sexual for a cover.

This would have made an excellent cover, I think. It’s a much more dynamic pose and facial expression. And you still get to be risqué with the breasts, but a loosened top feels less gratuitous than a couple of delicately perched strands of beads.

This would have been my second choice. The previous one might be a bit lascivious, and this one is more wholesome. She’s still leveling her gaze at the camera, but the effect is warmer.

So there you have it, SI. I await your call as a cover consultant.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Swimsuits Are Why Summer Exists

In celebration of the first full day of summer, get active. Go windsurfing.
Jenna de Rosnay, 1986

Play some beach volleyball.
Gabrielle Reece, 1997

Grab your board.
Veronica Varekova, 2007

Get out the pool toys.
Ana Beatriz Barros, 2003

Or just, you know, lounge around the beach.
Christie Brinkley, 1975

Enjoy it. It’s going to be cold by the time the next swimsuit issue arrives.
Vendela and Ashley Richardson, 1993

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Striking Poses

I know there are only so many ways you can twist the female body, but this is uncanny.
Brooklyn Decker, 2009 • • • • Brooklyn Decker, 2010

Friday, June 4, 2010

Big Bottoms

I’m a fan of bikini bottoms. Cute little high-wasted triangles of fabric that, for obvious reasons, you have to be female to wear. The V-shape really does something for me.

Jessica Gomes from 2009, would you care to demonstrate?Based on that, you’d think I’d be in a bit of a panic over a trend I noticed in the 2010 issue. Big bikini bottoms. Jessica Gomes from 2010, show them what I mean.
This isn’t even the biggest one by far. 2010 gave us pic after pic of models sporting bikini bottoms containing enough fabric to make two bikinis.
Bar Refaeli

Jessica White

Julie Henderson

Brooklyn Decker
Pelvis after pelvis, wallpapered. Is this a fashion trend? After years of seeing swimsuits slowly shrink, melting away from women’s bodies and exposing more and more square inches of skin, has some cabal of evil fashion designers decided that bikini bottoms have to retake their lost territory—and more? Sports Illustrated must have some significant links to the fashion world, and the swimsuit issue would be a place where a trend like that would be revealed to the general public.

I mean, look at this picture of Irina Shayk.That is the biggest bikini bottom I have ever seen in my life. Yards and yards of fabric encase her body from her upper thighs to her ribcage.

But you know what? She rocks it.

Seriously, this pic of Irina may be one of the greatest SI swimsuit pics of all time. I don’t know why it works. It’s like the suit has been beamed in from the 40s, yet it doesn’t seem stodgy.

That’s true throughout the magazine. What should strike me as looking like glorified granny panties are actually striking me as pretty sexy. Somehow, the bottoms emphasize the landscapes of the bodies a lot more intoxicatingly than skimpier ones would.

Of course, you could put these models in anything, and they’ll still look amazing. Maybe it’s as simple as that. And maybe it’s just a matter of variety. Bikini bottoms can’t get any smaller, so there’s nowhere to go but bigger.

I’m not ready to give up the tiny bottoms entirely, though. Luckily, I don’t think I’ll have to.


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Swimsuitology: The Study of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue

I am a big fan of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue.

I can’t explain it. Well, of course I can explain it—I don’t suppose anyone has ever been called upon to explain something like that. “Hot girls in bikinis? Really? What’s the appeal?”

But what I mean is, why Sports Illustrated specifically? There are other places to see swimsuit models. There are other displays of the female form. Heck, the internet exists, and it’s probably about 70% naked ladies.

And also, I’m 36. Once you’re past your early 20s, the swimsuit issue shouldn’t hold much interest besides maybe a double-take upon seeing the display at the 7-11. Maybe a casual, bashful flip-through.

But I look forward to it every year. There’s something about these particular girls, this particular photography style, that particular Sports Illustrated brand that has stuck with me long after I’ve outgrown my flirtations with Playboy, Victoria’s Secret, and (ugh) Maxim.

Maybe because it got to me first. My first swimsuit issue arrived with my dad’s subscription in 1985. Paulina Porizkova in her lacy blue top and smooth blue bottom grinned at me from the cover in friendly conspiracy, her sandy footprints receding behind her into the Australian countryside. I was eleven and perfectly primed to receive all this, just on the verge of believing that girls should be cherished and not fled from. Playboy, Victoria’s Secret, and Maxim—to say nothing of the internet—were years and years away in my life.

The 1985 issue had a cologne or perfume ad in it. One of those scented ones. I think if I were to smell it today, my heart would leap.

Anyway. It stuck. I find myself contemplating the swimsuit issue pretty frequently, forming opinions, making useless observations. I realized that I’d successfully predicted the last three cover models. (It doesn’t take a clairvoyant—they were Marisa Miller, Bar Refaeli, and Brooklyn Decker, all three in that increasingly rare group of Sports Illustrated models who are also household names. But still—a threepeat is a threepeat.)

So I thought I’d create a blog where I could jot stuff down as it occurs to me. I’ll do it until I get bored, or until I get embarrassed, or until SI sends me a cease and desist order.

By the way, I’ve decided to launch this blog on Heidi Klum’s birthday. She’s probably my favorite model of the 90s, just a textbook example of an intoxicatingly beautiful woman, and 100% SI. You cannot go wrong with Heidi Klum.Happy 37th Heidi Klum. Have some cake.