There exists a series of photos of Marisa Miller recreating shots of prominent models throughout the swimsuit issue’s history. I am ashamed to say that I’m not sure of the story behind them.
I got it into my head that they were released in 2004 as part of the 40th anniversary issue. (The SI.com gallery of Marisa seems to support that.) But I have the 2004 issue, and these photos of Marisa don’t appear in it.
I have seen some video footage of Marisa’s shoot, but I can’t seem to find it online anymore.
The confusion is compounded by the fact that a lot of the original photos on SI.com seem to be labeled as if part of the 50th anniversary. (For example, the files of Cheryl’s and Heidi’s are labeled 50th_ctiegs_01.jpg and 50th_hklum_01.jpg, respectively.) But the 50th anniversary won’t happen for a few more years.
Nevertheless, the shots are fascinating. With Marisa recreating, as accurately as possible, the swimsuit shots of models from previous decades, she creates the sensation of two women in the same bikini, a superconcentrated supermodel.
Marisa as Cheryl Tiegs (1978)Marisa has more curves up top, and fewer down below, than Cheryl did. But I’m impressed that they were willing to show the fishnet in all (or most) of its translucent glory.
Marisa as Christie Brinkley (1981)Frankly, I think there are better photos of Christie, but it’s hard to argue with that expanse of silky skin (X2).
Marisa as Paulina Porizkova (1985)Again, Marisa’s “modern” breast size interferes with the accuracy of this one, but a pretty beautiful setup.
Marisa as Kathy Ireland (1986)This one might be the best. Done up like this, even Marisa’s face looks like Kathy’s. If I didn’t know this was an impostor, I might not have even suspected.
Marisa as Elle Macpherson (1990)I miss the sheen on Elle’s midriff. Pretty gorgeous, though.
Marisa as Stacey Williams (1993)I’m thrilled that they did Stacey. Sadly, this was the one I had the hardest time finding a pic of online. The Marisa shot seems to be from a print magazine, but which print magazine?
Marisa as Daniela Pestova (1995)They went a little too severe on the hair, but otherwise a very convincing simulacrum.
Marisa as Tyra Banks (1997)This could have been touchy, but they played it well. Just dye Marisa’s hair black, don’t worry about the skin tone. Also, Marisa’s boob-to-hip ratio seems to be best suited for reproducing Tyra.
Marisa as Sarah O’Hare (1999)Interesting. Sarah O’Hare is the least “household” of the names on this list, and she only did two issues. But I think this one is more about the sand-kini than the girl wearing it.
Marisa as Heidi Klum (2000)Wow. The snake shot? Well, if you’re lucky enough to find two non-ophidiophobic swimsuit models within a five-year period, you have to go for it.
Marisa was the perfect model to do this. She had done a lot to reinvigorate the idea of the SI girl as a well-known object of worship. (Heidi Klum filled that position beautifully, but she’d been out of regular circulation for a couple years by 2004. She returned for some 1940s bodypainting for 2006 and a weird Will Ferrell movie tie-in for 2008.)
But even more importantly, she functioned well as a blank slate onto which the prominent beauties of years past could be projected.
(Though I have to admit, as Marisa Miller Week draws to a close, I have a new appreciation for her. She’s not as “cookie-cutter” or generic as I thought; those eyebrows and that smirk and those warm eyes do set her apart.)