IN THE SWIM WITH FARLEY
Byline: Anne D’Innocenzio
NEW YORK — When it comes to the famed Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, beach bunnies need no longer apply.
Elaine Farley, 32, its new senior editor, wants her models doing something — chomping on a sandwich, playing a sport, or walking — not just lying around in the sand.
“I wanted to show women looking more active,” said Farley, a former fashion editor at Glamour, who assumed the post in June from Jule Campbell. Campbell pioneered SI’s annual cheesecake concept 33 years ago.
“I wanted to show all different facets of women, from active women to glamorous women to sensual women. I wanted to give it a varied look, showing the strong, the soft and the smart.”
That’s just one of several changes Farley brought to SI’s swimsuit edition, which hits newsstands Wednesday. The stand-alone issue, SI’s first since 1989, features 152 pages of editorial, three times that of its previous swimsuit edition, which is typically incorporated into SI’s weekly pages in late January or early February.
Farley noted that she “has some pretty big shoes to fill.” The challenge, she said, is to make her own imprint on SI’s blockbuster without losing its mass appeal. The issue, which boasts a circulation of 4.5 million, and its spinoff properties, including a swimsuit calendar CD-ROM as well as desk and wall calendars, generate more than $30 million in revenue a year for SI.
“You have to respect what is in the past. I wanted to capture a feeling that was new, but that did not alienate what came before. This wasn’t about being trendy but about stretching the parameters of the swimsuit,” she said.
Farley, who is looking to bring a more artsy look to SI’s pages, kept only one of Campbell’s steady photographers — Walter Iooss Jr. — and instead has tapped into her own network, which includes Dewey Nicks, Guzman, Andre Rau, Sante D’Orazio, Tiziano Magni and Russell James.
She’ll also shake up the model lineup, which in the past has heavily featured Vendela, Elle Macpherson, Kathy Ireland and Tyra Banks.
She said contacts with the designer crowd from her Glamour days came in handy. She was able to get Isaac Mizrahi, Todd Oldham, Donna Karan, Norma Kamali and Moschino to create “future suits” for the February issue.
“I’ve really focused on hiphuggers, big bottoms and lots of texture, especially knitwear,” said Farley, who shopped the swimsuit show in July in Miami, and also scoured the swimsuit market here.
Farley, who admits to hearing criticism from people who think her line of work is sexist, said she doesn’t try too hard to convert new readers stuck on old stereotypes. “The swimsuit issue is entertainment, and it is supposed to be fun,” she said. “And if you don’t find it fun, then you should not be reading it.”