|Entrance to party|
All photos: Lieba Nesis
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Sports Illustrated (SI) held its annual Swimsuit Issue celebration at 415 Fifth Avenue on Thursday February 16, 2017 with the red carpet beginning at 6 PM. Unlike most other magazines which only feature stick thin models Sports Illustrated celebrates women of all shapes and sizes. Tonight was filled with luminaries including: Christie Brinkley, Hannah Jeter, Kate Upton, John Legend, Chrissy Teigen, Nick Cannon, Hailey Clauson and many of the SI models.
|Chrissy Teigen, John Legend, Christie Brinkley and Aly Raisman|
Christie Brinkley, in a bright red jumpsuit, was the star of the evening as she continues to defy gravity with her beautiful body and face belying her 63 years of age. She was accompanied by her daughters Sailor Cook and Alexa Ray Joel who posed patiently for pictures.
|Christie Brinkley's daughters Alexa Ray Joel and Sailor Cook|
Alexa was initially freaked out at the thought of posing in a bathing suit but tonight she was ebullient - - exhibiting the professionalism of a seasoned model. As Christie made her way through the crowd I kept hearing all the men commenting, "man I can't believe she's like in her 60's."
|Danielle Herrington and Comic Rip Michaels|
There were so many beautiful girls in attendance it was hard to differentiate who was a model a sentiment reiterated by comedian Rip Michaels who said he really enjoyed seeing all the beautiful women who were non-models. Rip also commented he liked the open bar since the only time a black man gets free drinks is at a funeral. Rip's boss is Nick Cannon and I have a feeling we will be seeing more of Rip in the future.
I spoke to Russian model Vita Sidorkina who found out two weeks before they were shooting that she would be featured in the magazine. Vita was wearing a plunging Carmen Marc Valvo dress and said she has dreamt of this moment since she arrived in the United States five years ago.
|Sports Illustrated models with their pictures McKenna Berkley and Anna de Paula|
Similarly, first time SI model McKenna Berkley told me she has wanted to be in the magazine since the age of 13-even voting for Rookie of the Year at this young age. McKenna appears in body paint which took twelve hours to apply and followed a healthy diet for her big debut. Danielle Herrington, another first time model, told me she loves that SI pays homage to women with butts, boobs and thighs. Herrington said she loves her curves and doesn't want to lose them.
As I made my way through the crowd I spotted Chrissy Teigen whose husband John Legend was grabbing her lovingly. Teigen gave birth to daughter Luna nine months ago and appears in this month's issue in fabulous form.
|Hannah Jeter and Plus Size Model Ashley Graham|
Hannah Jeter, who is currently pregnant, came to the party late wearing a sexy cutout sequined gown and appearing even more luminous than I remember. Unlike Victoria's Secret where the models engage in starvation and grueling workout regimes Sports Illustrated celebrates a more bodacious body as evidenced by third time cover girl Kate Upton. Upton is an absolute beauty and tonight she was socializing in the corner in a relatively demure black shirt and skirt.
|Plus Size SI model Hunter McGrady and Cover Girl Kate Upton|
While some were hoping for a more unconventional choice the men love Kate and there is no way around it. Upton was seriously conversing with size 16 model Hunter Hunter McGrady who told me enormous strides were being made in the fashion industry with full figured Ashley Graham appearing for the first time yesterday in a Michael Kors fashion show. Hunter was hopeful that Victoria's Secret would get on the plus size bandwagon and said she would love to model for them. Even Hunter hired a trainer three months before her SI shoot in order to tone her curves but likes her body the way it is.
|Tennis player Genie Bouchard, Cover Girl Kate Upton, and Tennis Player Heidi Eltabakh|
- Lieba Nesis