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.