Kate Upton Shines on the Cover of Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Issue [Gallery]

Sports Illustrated magazine on Monday unveiled its annual swimsuit issue with model Kate Upton on the cover in a two-toned, red string bikini with a bottom piece that, literally, appears to be little more than a string.

  • 2012 Swimsuit Cover: Kate Upton was photographed by Walter Iooss Jr. in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Swimsuit by Suit Yourself Bikinis by Kathleen Bruening. Photo: Walter Iooss Jr./Sports Illustrated2012 Swimsuit Cover: Kate Upton was photographed by Walter Iooss Jr. in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Swimsuit by Suit Yourself Bikinis by Kathleen Bruening. Photo: Walter Iooss Jr./Sports Illustrated
  • Kate Upton was photographed by Stewart Shining in Apalachicola, Florida. Swimsuit by Beach Bunny Swimwear. Photo: Walter Iooss Jr./Sports IllustratedKate Upton was photographed by Stewart Shining in Apalachicola, Florida. Swimsuit by Beach Bunny Swimwear. Photo: Walter Iooss Jr./Sports Illustrated
  • Kate Upton was photographed by Walter Iooss Jr. in Cairns, Queensland, Australia. Swimsuit by Maui Girl by Debbie Wilson. Photo: Walter Iooss Jr./Sports IllustratedKate Upton was photographed by Walter Iooss Jr. in Cairns, Queensland, Australia. Swimsuit by Maui Girl by Debbie Wilson. Photo: Walter Iooss Jr./Sports Illustrated
  • Kate Upton was photographed by Walter Iooss Jr. in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Swimsuit by Suit Yourself Bikinis by Kathleen Bruening. Photo: Walter Iooss Jr./Sports IllustratedKate Upton was photographed by Walter Iooss Jr. in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Swimsuit by Suit Yourself Bikinis by Kathleen Bruening. Photo: Walter Iooss Jr./Sports Illustrated
  • Kate Upton was photographed by Walter Iooss Jr. in Cairns, Queensland, Australia. Swimsuit by Elizabeth Southwood for Sauvage Swimwear. Photo: Walter Iooss Jr./Sports IllustratedKate Upton was photographed by Walter Iooss Jr. in Cairns, Queensland, Australia. Swimsuit by Elizabeth Southwood for Sauvage Swimwear. Photo: Walter Iooss Jr./Sports Illustrated
  • Kate Upton was photographed by Walter Iooss Jr. in Cairns, Queensland, Australia. Swimsuit by Vanda Catucci. Photo: Walter Iooss Jr./Sports IllustratedKate Upton was photographed by Walter Iooss Jr. in Cairns, Queensland, Australia. Swimsuit by Vanda Catucci. Photo: Walter Iooss Jr./Sports Illustrated
  • Kate Upton was photographed by Walter Iooss Jr. in Cairns, Queensland, Australia. Swimsuit by Magdalena Trever by Maggie May Swimwear. Photo: Walter Iooss Jr./Sports IllustratedKate Upton was photographed by Walter Iooss Jr. in Cairns, Queensland, Australia. Swimsuit by Magdalena Trever by Maggie May Swimwear. Photo: Walter Iooss Jr./Sports Illustrated
  • Kate Upton was photographed by Walter Iooss Jr. in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Swimsuit by Cali Dreaming. Photo: Walter Iooss Jr./Sports IllustratedKate Upton was photographed by Walter Iooss Jr. in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Swimsuit by Cali Dreaming. Photo: Walter Iooss Jr./Sports Illustrated

The decision to put buxom blonde, Kate Upton, on the cover of this year’s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue continues the magazine’s long tradition of favouring voluptuous models for the coveted photo shoot., writes the UK’s Daily Mail.

She is a far cry, however, from the magazine’s first ever cover girl, Babette March, who appeared in a far more modest, albeit risque for the time, white, two-piece number in 1964.

The Michigan-born 19-year-old, who posed in a skimpy red number by Suit Yourself Bikinis for the 2012 issue, will enjoy the rewards of her appearance on the iconic Swimsuit issue for years to come following the succession of past stars whose careers have been launched far beyond the realm of the fashion world by their cover debuts.

Much has been said about that itty-bitty bikini, but Kate Upton’s sexy Sports Illustrated cover look goes beyond the bathing suit. The 19-year-old stunner was glammed up by the magazine’s team of makeup artists and hairstylists — though they admit she didn’t need much help looking gorgeous.

“The great thing about Kate is that there’s kind of a look that she has — she has that blonde hair, a beauty mark in the right place,” makeup artist Tracy Murphy explains to People Magazine. “She’s like, the girl that’s born to be a bombshell. It’s already there.”

Murphy used some bronzer, waterproof mascara and nude lip balm on her model, touched up her eyebrows and sent her on her way. “She has really beautiful coloring, those naturally rosy cheeks you have when you’re 19,” Murphy says. “It was really effortless beauty with her.”

Her hair was a different story. Though stylist Peter Butler prepped as best he could, Mother Nature got in the way. “Take about 50 to 60 mile-per-hour winds,” he jokes of attaining her beachy waves, which he created using a 2-in. curling iron and Leonor Greyl mousse. “Usually beach hair is pretty natural and raw, so it’s more about trying to control it as much as possible, while still keeping it natural.”

Because of the winds in Sydney, Australia, where Upton was shot, Butler had to give his client some tips. “I pretty much told her how to hold her hair in the wind,” he recalls. “We had to find the angle for the wind to blow it the right way. It was a lot of luck.”

The cover image itself was a lucky get, too; senior editor MJ Day says there “was a lot of excitement when we were shooting this. We had really tough weather when we were shooting, and it was one of those days when it was clear and perfect and beautiful.”

Day combed through about 10,000 swimsuits, finding the perfect Suit Yourself Bikini by Kathleen Bruening ($180) for Upton’s shoot. “It was such a tiny top and such a tiny bottom, but still sophisticated, flattering and sexy,” she says. “We just loved it on her.”

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