AN ARRAY of models with diverse profiles and backgrounds are headed to the Philippines this November, as the country’s exotic tropical locations are used as settings in the wildly popular Sports Illustrated (SI) Swimsuit Issue for 2018.
In a news conference on Tuesday at the Department of Tourism (DOT) building in Makati CITY, Undersecretary for Public Affairs, Communications and Special Projects Katherine Chloe de Castro said the “search” and photo shoot will take around three weeks and will involve 18 candidates. The top choice destinations for the photo shoots are Siargao, Surigao del Norte and Subic Beach in Sorsogon. Siargao is considered the country’s surfing capital, while Subic Beach beguiles tourists because of its pink sand.
The search the DOT official refers to is the first-ever open casting call that SI Swimsuit management had undertaken this year. The winner will be featured in the pages of the popular magazine next year, which is usually released onward from February.
The annual Swimsuit issue is said to be SI’s “bread and butter”, with published reports estimating its value at some $1 billion. It has featured its models in various exotic locations, tropical or otherwise, but this will be the first time the magazine will be shooting in the Philippines.
In a separate interview with the BusinessMirror, Tourism Secretary Wanda Corazon T. Teo, however, said she had thumbed down the bodypaint exercise for the magazine’s photo shoot here, “in deference to local feminist groups, who might be offended.” One of the most widely anticipated features of the SI Swimsuit issue are photos of the nude models covered in painstakingly painted “swimwear”.
Asked about the cost of hosting the SI Swimsuit group, de Castro said, “We’re still finalizing the costs but, definitively, it will be way cheaper than the Miss Universe pageant.” The Miss Universe contest in Manila held in January was estimated to have cost about $13 million, or roughly P650 million, which was mainly shouldered by politician Chavit Singson.
She also said other fashion models who were in the previous SI Swimsuit issues will also be making a trip to the Philippines for their photo shoots. The SI Swimsuit editorial board, however, has yet to announce who will be the cover of its 2018 issue. This year its cover featured fashion model and actress Kate Upton.
The DOT official added, “Filipino photographers will be used for the photo shoot. But we’re still finalizing the list.” Sports Illustrated had fired the last of its staff photographers in 2015 as part of the publication’s budget cuts.
For the first time in its history, the SI Swimsuit Issue management had decided to make an open casting call for its 2018 edition.
On its web site, SI Swimsuit Issue editor MJ Day shares: “We decided to hold an open casting call this year because, while we cast the bulk of our models through the traditional avenues of modeling agency submissions, it is very clear to us that there are plenty of exceptionally interesting and beautiful women in the world that exist outside of ‘industry expectations’.”
She added: “By creating an opportunity for women to submit their own casting video on their own terms, we hope to find an undiscovered star.”
From about 5,000 video submissions, the SI Swimsuit editorial board has narrowed down the list of lucky ladies to 15 candidates, offering diversity in looks and backgrounds. The candidates are Stefanie Rachel, Kate De Paz, Dessie Mitcheson, Tabria Majors, Steph Snyder, Allie Ayers, Camille Kostek, Kayla Fitzgerald, Michelle Vidal, Keyeriah Miles, Haley Kalil, Sarina Nowak, Iyonna Fairbanks, Shelby McLean and Olivia Jordan.
The SI Swimsuit Issue broke new ground in 2016 when it featured plus-size model Ashley Graham on its cover.
Image credits: Photos from S.I. Swimsuit