Friday, June 28, 2013

50 Greatest Swimsuit Models, #10-1

This was fun. Naming 50 great models was easy, naming exactly 50 was hard. And forcing myself to decide if I preferred, say, Fernanda Motta or Stephanie Seymour was agonizing.

Meanwhile, I’ve spent the week contemplating beautiful women in swimsuits, so I’ve been in a pretty good mood.

Here’s where I landed for my top ten.

10: Julie Henderson
She's a divisive one. It surprises me how violently some people dislike her. The party line at Bellazon, for example, seems to be that she has a fantastic body but a bad face. They are continuously confused and dismayed that she keeps appearing in SI. Thankfully, they aren't in charge, and I continue to receive an influx of new Julie photos every February.  

9: Elsa Benitez
Warm. That's the first adjective that springs to mind about Elsa. Warm eyes, smile, skin. A slow, easy seductiveness that's impossible not to love.

8: Cheryl Tiegs
Shots like this one are timeless. A lot has changed with regards to standards of feminine beauty, styles of swimwear, photography and retouching technology, etc. But you look at this photo and understand why Cheryl was the original SI supermodel.

7: Christie Brinkley
She took the baton from Cheryl and ran with it. Hypnotic beauty, which persists to this day. Cheryl introduced wholesome, all-American blonde imagery to SI, Christie perfected it.

6: Petra Nemcova
Hauntingly ravishing. A warm, sunny, friendly gorgeousness with a dark river flowing beneath it. 

5: Rebecca Romijn
There is a direct line from Cheryl to Christie to Rebecca, then on to Kate after her. Brilliantly gorgeous American blonde + bikini = the backbone of the swimsuit issue.

4: Paulina Porizkova
My first cover. As a counterweight to the all-American blonde faction, Paulina is the darker Eastern European/Russian strain of SI model. Paulina lives on in the likes of Petra and Irina.

3: Stacey Williams
I agonized over this. Stacey and Heidi leapfrogged each other in my mind all week. Stacey’s hypnotizing eyes and cascading tendrils of brown hair have entranced me for over two decades.

2: Heidi Klum
But in the end, Heidi had a cover and more omnipresent career, and I figured that gave her an edge. Heidi is so deeply, inarguably beautiful it almost hurts.

1: Elle Macpherson
This one, I never had any dilemma about. The greatest model ever to wriggle into a swimsuit. As of now, I’m not sure who tops SI’s official list, but in my mind there is no doubt.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

50 Greatest Swimsuit Models, #20-11

The countdown continues. I keep reshuffling these before I post them, and I’m already starting a mental list of women I’ve left off but maybe shouldn’t have.

Any guesses on SI’s official top ten? I have a feeling Ms. Upton will be up top. You gotta keep playing your winning hand.

20: Veronica Varekova

19: Jessica Van Der Steen

18: Ashley Richardson
I have neglected Ashley on this blog. That must end soon. The woman is constructed entirely of curves. (Happy birthday Ashley, by the way.)

17: Valeria Mazza

16: Chandra North

15: Carol Alt
Magnificent. Dark hair, blue eyes, sleek body.

14: Josie Maran
I've sung the praises of her seductiveness. There's something highly erotic about her.

13: Daniela Pestova

12: Kate Upton
Her Antarctica shoot bumped her higher on this list than she would have been before. I can't resist anymore—I’m a fan.

11: Jessica Gomes
Her northern fluctuations have calmed down a little, and she takes her place among my very favorites.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

50 Greatest Swimsuit Models, #30-21

I've gone back over the last two entries and added explanations, defenses, and flailing justifications.

30: Kim Cloutier
Oh, how I wish she had a few more years with SI.

29: Jessica White
A lot has been made of Anne V, but Jessica quietly put together 8 appearances (with a break in 2006). It would have been nice to see her follow Tyra and become only the second (non-Beyonce) black woman to appear on the cover.

28: Lujan Fernandez

27: Kenza Fourati
I feel like I may be the president, secretary, and treasurer of the Kenza Fourati Fan Club. Not sure she made much of an impression on anyone else, but I'm still obsessed with her, two years later.

26: Jarah Mariano

25: Fernanda Motta

24: Stephanie Seymour

23: Noemie Lenoir

22: Angie Everhart
Cintia Dicker has a lot of buzz among swimsuit fans, but Angie's the SI redhead I would choose if I could only have one.

21: Marisa Miller
I had a bit of a conversion a couple years ago and became a fan. I think she might have reignited the idea of a household-name SI girl.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

50 Greatest Swimsuit Models, #40-31

It should be pointed out that SI probably chose 50 models because of the 50th anniversary of the swimsuit issue, coming up in 2014. They are also going to release a coffee table book called Sports Illustrated Swimsuit: 50 Years of Beautiful. That comes out in October, and here is an exclusive peek at the cover:
At this point you may be thinking, “Bar Refaeli? Kathy Ireland? Brooklyn Decker? They’re this low on your list?” Well, this hastily assembled list reflects who I was more swept up by in that moment. Maybe a year from now Brooklyn will outrank Kim Cloutier in my heart, but at the moment I made this list, Kim gave me more pleasure to contemplate.


40: Melissa Keller

39: Kathy Ireland
I've said it before: gorgeous, and unquestionably iconic in SI history. She just never struck me to my core the way she does for others. But a top-50 without her would definitely be incomplete.

38: Hilary Rhoda

37: Ariel Meredith

36: Yamila Diaz

35: Tyra Banks

34: Brooklyn Decker
This might be a bit of blasphemy to have her this low. She's undeniably a sexy blonde, but there are other models I find more interesting.

33: Irina Shayk

32: Tori Praver

31: Bar Refaeli

Monday, June 24, 2013

50 Greatest Swimsuit Models, #50-41

Ah, this should be fun. Swim Daily is counting down the 50 Greatest Swimsuit Models this week. They’re unveiling 10 a day, so they’ve already shown us who’s cracked the bottom of the list.
Thanks, Lexus! And Brooklyn, Tyra, and Kate’s cleavage!
I’ve hastily assembled my 50 favorite, so I can release my picks parallel to theirs.

I expect a pretty significant difference between the lists. First of all, I tend to get obsessed with some fairly unknown models after just one appearance. (Hello Kenza, Jeisa and Lucia!) Also, I suspect SI will stack the top of their list pretty heavily with current models, as a bit of a marketing move. It wouldn’t look very good if their current crop—your Kate Uptons, your Irina Shayks, your Alyssa Millers, your Nina Agdals—couldn’t crack the top 10.

And if you are a regular reader of this blog, you probably already know who my #1 is.

I guess my full disclosure is that the list reflects my personal tastes of the day, with factors like the model’s fame, or number of appearances, or importance in the industry, or legendary status, acting as factors in some undefinable way.

So let’s get to the fun, arbitrary rankings.
50: Lucia Dvorska
Fragile, dark Lucia. Why did we have you for just one fleeting February?

49: Selita Ebanks

48: Laetitia Casta

47: Audrey Quock

46: Jeisa Chiminazzo

45: Anne V
I love Anne's longevity. (She's been identified with some certainty as one of the models in the 2014 preview shots, which would mean she'll be in a record ten consecutive issues.) She's always struck me as a bit more "fashion model" than "cheesecake model," though I quite liked her 2013 shots.

44: Rachel Hunter
A pretty low ranking for a favorite, as pointed out in the comments section. I love Rachel, but she kind of struck me as a solid, reliable presence rather than a superstar. (Though this shot is probably one of my favorite photos in all of SI.)

43: Isabeli Fontana

42: Daniella Sarahyba
How could you deny Her Royal Smileness a spot?

41: Ingrid Seynhaeve