It’s second year in a row when the blonde graces the cover of the magazine, a new edition of which is set to be officially unveiled Monday night on TV on CBS’ “Late Show with David Letterman.”
It’s Upton’s third appearance in a Swimsuit issue. The beauty was chosen as rookie of the year two years ago, when Irina Shayk was on the cover.
As The Daily Mail reports, Kate got the surreal and beautiful landscape of Antarctica where the shot shows her clad only in a white, fur-lined parka and bikini bottom.
Out of a dozen or so photos in which she appears, the cover shot “is the most clothes I’m wearing in the whole issue,” Upton told reporters Monday. “It was a sort of I-love-you from the editor: ‘I’ll let you wear a coat for this one.’”
The shoot took 10 days in December, which is Antarctica’s the coldest period of the year. Some of the photos were shot from the base ship, which also carried the team from one icy land shooting site to another.
Upton said of her journey when she returned home: ‘I’M very, very sick. I don’t think you can go to Antarctica and stand in a bikini without that happening. But I didn’t die, and I’m OK now.”
However, despite all the obstacles and difficulties, the model and actress said it would likely remain her most thrilling ever, and called Antarctica “the most beautiful place I’ve ever been.”
But for anyone else who wants to repeat her experience, she offered this bit of advice: “You are definitely recommended to keep your clothes on.”
“Everything about the picture is perfect,” Swimsuit Issue editor MJ Day told PEOPLE. “The light, the background, the suit. It’s different from what we’ve done in past years, and it was an exciting moment for us to have those photos work out.”
“It was difficult,” Day admitted. “First of all, it’s cold, even though we were there in summer. The windchill was sub-zero – the elements are really working against you.”
As the crew dealt with various issues – batteries dying in the cold, crazy weather rolling in and out – Upton proved that she’s a professional, Day says. “She never complained. She’d just say, ‘Okay, let’s go do it again.’”
Citing high costs and preparing required to such journey – Day says it took three years to plan this photoshoot – Upton was the only model taken to the faraway locale.
“I knew that if I needed to bury someone in clothing, I needed her physique and curves to come through,” Day explains.
“So to bring her was obvious: I knew I could put a one-piece on her and she wouldn’t look flat, she’d still look voluptuous and healthy and shapely and sexy.”