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June 13, 2024

The Model Featured on the Cover of Duran Duran’s ‘Rio’ Has Finally Been Identified After Four Decades

Rio is the second studio album by Duran Duran, released on May 10, 1982 through EMI. Duran Duran themselves do not appear on the front cover of Rio, which was a stylistic departure from their debut and most albums at the time; the band felt that photographs and the music videos would suffice.

Instead, the cover artwork is a portrait of a woman with striking make-up, a large smile and black hair. It was painted by artist Patrick Nagel, who was commissioned by the band after co-manager Paul Berrow discovered his work while browsing a Playboy magazine; Nagel was a regular contributor to the magazine at the time. Creating what became known as his trademark style, Nagel presented two options: a woman with a flower in her hair sitting sideways and the chosen shot of a woman smiling. Nick Rhodes recalled, “We all said instantly: ‘Yes, that’s it. That’s the cover.’” 42 years later, the woman’s identity has finally been revealed.

The big reveal was announced by Monica Moynihan, a Nagel historian and art broker who runs the definitive Patrick Nagel Arts website and Instagram. The cover girl’s mysterious identity was actually uncovered by another Instagram account, @nagel_angel, aka Nagel expert Mark Walker, who Moynihan said “deserves all the credit” and “spent $$$ and countless hours” in a hungry-like-the-wolf quest to hunt down the original lady with the cherry ice cream smile.

“Today we publicly reveal Duran Duran’s Rio May 1982 album cover image source from Vogue Paris, February 1981,” Moynihan wrote on Instagram before adding that the image stemmed from a multi-page editorial in the magazine.

Marcie Hunt in an Angelo Tarlazzi fashion spread for the French edition of Vogue, February 1981.

Marcie Hunt in an Angelo Tarlazzi fashion spread for the French edition of Vogue, February 1981.

Walker, who’d been “buying a lot of various fashion magazines from the era that Pat might have purchased: Everything from European versions of Vogue, to Linea Italiana to American magazines like GQ, Glamour, and U.S. Vogue,” tracked down the album cover’s original source image — a multi-page editorial spread for Angelo Tarlazzi in the February 1981 issue of Vogue Paris. “I saw that smile. I saw those eyes, those eyes that I’d stared at hundreds of times by this point in my life, hundreds if not thousands of times. I’ve been entranced by this magical woman for over 40 years. I knew it was her,” Walker posted on his own Instagram account.

Barry Hahn, the technical art assistant for Nagel, confirmed that the identity of the Rio album cover indeed belongs to Hunt. Duran Duran got involved in the thrill of the reveal, reposting the Instagram post to their profile.

Marcie Hunt, a former Top Model in Paris, is currently an artist for Dos Lagos Vineyards wine labels and canvas prints. She also shared the post, writing: “Thanks everyone for the big reveal! It's so exciting to know that I am also Rio on the cover of Duran Duran. One of my all time favorite groups. And that the smile brought so much luck to these multi talented musicians.”

Another fan, Sarah Bastos, responded to a post by Moynihan asking for help identifying the mystery woman, saying she recognized the porcelain-skinned, raven-haired beauty as fashion model Marcie Hunt, who can be seen on different ’80s magazine covers below:

Marcie Hunt on the cover of Vogue, September 1981.

Marcie Hunt on the cover of Tatler magazine.

Marcie Hunt on the cover of Marie Claire France.

As for why it took more than four decades for the real Rio to be identified, Patrick Nagel, who conducted very few interviews during his brief lifetime, died less than two years after the Rio album’s release, at age 38, in perhaps the most ’80s way possible (he suffered a heart attack after participating in a celebrity “aerobathon”).

“We suspect the model and maybe the band Duran Duran had no idea Nagel was influenced and used this image to create the cover of their musical masterpiece, Rio,” Moynihan added “He certainly changed many things, most specifically removing her glasses, but he obviously loved her smile. And that smile has been an iconic piece of Duran Duran history for decades.”


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