Christie Brinkley Reflects on Her Three Back-to-Back SI Swimsuit Issue Covers

The SI Swimsuit model landed the magazine’s front three years in a row.
Christie Brinkley

Christie Brinkley.

Christie Brinkley made her SI Swimsuit debut in 1975 at the age of 21. She went on to make eight issue appearances from 1975 to ’04, including the cover of the SI Swimsuit Issue in 1979, ’80 and ’81.

The now 69-year-old frequently reflects on the many projects from her near 50-year career in the modeling industry on social media, including her iconic SI Swimsuit covers.

Brinkley landed her first SI Swimsuit Issue cover in 1979, just four years after her magazine debut. She posed for photographer Walter Iooss Jr. in Seychelles, which the model called “one of the most magical places in the world” in an Instagram post.

“On the island called Pralin we stayed in huts on a beach and the door to my hut didn’t even go near the ground so I could see the fishermens feet as they walked by and I could hear the waves and birds and coco de mer on the wind was Magical!” she wrote.

Brinkley wore a black embellished one-piece swimsuit for the cover image.

“I loved my Sports Illustrated Adventures and sm soooo grateful for the memories!” she continued in her post.

The following year, Brinkley traveled to the British Virgin Islands, where she was photographed by John G. Zimmerman. She modeled a white string bikini with brown trim as she leaned against a palm tree on the front of the magazine. The mom of three described being shocked that she landed the cover for a second year.

“you could have knocked me over with a seagull feather when I heard I had the cover again for the second year in a row!!!” she wrote on Instagram. “Say what???? ME? Am I on Candid Camera? Lol!”

Brinkley’s third cover photo shoot in ’81 took place in Florida, again captured by Zimmerman. The gorgeous front page image was taken at sunrise as she modeled a lilac-colored bikini with the wind in her hair.

“To me to be outdoors to watch the sunrise, and spend the day with a team looking for ways to create something special, and then watch the sun sink into the sea my idea of a perfect day,” Brinkley shared. “Thank you Sports Illustrated for giving me so many perfect days!”

The Timeless Beauty author’s most recent SI Swimsuit feature was in 2017 when she returned to the magazine at the age of 63 alongside her daughters, Alexa Ray Joel and Sailor Brinkley-Cook.

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Cara O’Bleness


Cara is a trending news writer/editor for Sports Illustrated Swimsuit. A passionate writer and editor with more than 10 years of experience in print and online media, she loves storytelling and believes that words have the power to change the world. Prior to joining the team, Cara worked as a writer and editor across a number of content verticals, including food, lifestyle, health and wellness, and small business and entrepreneurship. In her free time, Cara loves reading, spending time with her family and making her way through Michigan’s many microbreweries. She is a graduate of Michigan State University's School of Journalism.