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In the eight dizzying months since she left Glamour to become
our swimsuit editor, Elaine Farley has often thought about the
big shoes she's had to fill. "Following in Jule Campbell's
footsteps is nearly impossible," says Farley. "She had this job
for 32 years--she's the only other person ever to have it. Her
legacy is overwhelming."

So rather than imitating Campbell, Farley decided to make some
changes. For starters, this year's issue features swimsuit
photos of professional athletes, including Steffi Graf. When
Graf arrived on location in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, Farley could
instantly see why she has won 21 Grand Slam titles. "Steffi's a
perfectionist," says Farley. "And when she plays tennis, she's
used to feeling that she controls her destiny. Here, she seemed
to feel she was at the mercy of the camera. That was difficult
for her. But she was spectacular. She excels at what she does,
and she also looks amazing."

This year's swimsuit issue also stands on its own--subscribers
are receiving it in addition to their weekly issue--and it
contains 152 edit pages, roughly three times the number in our
regular issues. Farley chose to fill those pages with photos
shot at seven locations on three continents and to use the
bikini to tie the sites together. "I wanted to use classic
places around the world that represented the bikini, this icon
of cool," explains Farley. "Last year marked the end of the
bikini's first 50 years, so this is a salute to 50 more years of
the bikini. Sort of, 'Let's keep it going!'"

Fortunately, Farley loves to travel, since she has had to keep
it going from Venezuela's Angel Falls, the world's tallest, to a
rented Malibu beach house; from trendy Harbour Island in the
Bahamas to the sleepy Mexican village of Todos Santos, where she
and model Stacy Williams spontaneously concocted a shoot
centering on "the bikini in the pool hall." In each locale
Farley strove to illuminate a different side of women. "I've
always loved images, putting pictures together," says Farley,
who graduated with a degree in painting from New York City's
School of Visual Arts and enjoys "hanging out at bookstores,"
where she browses through photography, art and design books for
inspiration. At one extreme was the Monte Carlo shoot, in which
Farley aimed for an "over-the-top glamorous" look inspired by a
photo book of Riviera scenes from the 1930s. At the grittier end
were the shots of professional beach volleyball players, taken
on the Hawaiian island of Kauai, where the women were competing
in a tournament. "They'd play, then come to us for an afternoon
shoot," says Farley. "They were excited about promoting women as
serious athletes and seriously sexy. Theirs are beautiful,
beautiful photos."

As are they all. So here's to our new swimsuit editor and to 50
more years of the bikini.