The Story Behind the Famous SI Swimsuit Photo of Hannah Ferguson in the Body Painted Fishnet Swimsuit

The model nearly beared it all when she posed for the magazine in St. Lucia.

Hannah Ferguson. 

In 2014, model Hannah Ferguson made her SI Swimsuit debut photographed by Walter Iooss Jr. in St. Lucia. The photoshoot was inspired by the iconic swimsuit that Cheryl Tiegs had modeled in 1978. You can view the famous image here.

The incredible process took hours to come together. The mastermind behind the artful body paint was none other than Joanne Gair. Gair, born in New Zealand, is primarily a makeup artist (she was Madonna's personal makeup artist on her Blonde Ambition tour in 1990) and has created many body paintings for various magazine covers and ad campaigns.


To accomplish this particular impressive feat, Gair and her team first spray-painted a completely white base layer on Ferguson. Then, they had her put on a custom fishnet swimsuit that was made to fit her measurements exactly. They used the swimsuit as a stencil, spraying through it to bring back her skin tone. View more of the process here.

Ferguson told SI Swimsuit that she “was nervous because [she] had never been that exposed on camera before, but it was a fun experience, and I just embraced it and went with it, and actually had a really good time.” She continued to say that she felt, “because everybody else thought I was wearing something, I felt like I was wearing was a little mind game.”


Ferguson went on to be featured in SI Swimsuit in 2015, ’16, and ’17.

View all of the photos from the impressive gallery here.

SI Staff