Nudes are too old-fashioned for Playboy. But not for the Sexiest Woman Alive.

The Mother of Dragons is the Sexiest Woman Alive.

So says men’s magazine Esquire, in their annual proclamation on which woman in the world embodies the epitome of hotness at this very moment.

The cover of Esquire, that proclaims Emilia Clarke as the Sexiest Woman Alive. In the small print, at least.

Ten years ago, it was Jessica Biel, last year, it was Scarlett Johannson, at times over the last few decades, for Esquire “sexiness” has been personified by Angelina Jolie, Mila Kunis, Kate Beckinsale and Miranda Kerr.

You can tell that Esquire fancies itself as the “thinking man’s” men’s mag, apparently, because almost all of these women are brunettes. No pneumatic, bubble-chested blondes here.

Esquire’s Sexiest Women Alive. Story continues after gallery:

So, the peak of sexiness we should be aspiring to in 2015 is Emilia Clarke. And the reason? Because she embodies the following:

Friendly and fierce. Kid sister and killer. Movie star and girl next door.

She’s an achiever, but she’s not scary. Girls, are you taking notes?

No person with eyes would argue with this choice. Emilia Clarke is the heart-stoppingly beautiful British actress who plays the most admirable character in TV obsession Game Of Thrones. Both she and her character are especially sexy and men, women and animals must concur.

Emilia Clarke via Instagram.

But coming as it does on the day that Playboy magazine has announced it will stop running naked women in the pages of its print edition, there’s something jarring about Esquire’s insistence of powering ahead with its Sexiest Woman Alive schtick.

Playboy admitted that their trademark nudes have been rendered irrelevant and old fashioned by that pesky interloper The Internet. In a statement, the company’s chief executive Scott Flanders said, “You’re now one click away from every sex act imaginable for free. And so [nudes are] just passé at this juncture.”

The Esquire issue compared to the November Playboy issue.

So true.

But also true is that for years now, celebrities — who are the people who will sell magazines for you — will happily get their kit off for many, many other magazines, but not Playboy. Think of the undressed megastars you have seen on the covers of Vanity Fair, Rolling Stone and yes, men’s magazines like Esquire, over the past 10 years. And then ponder the strange fact that on Playboy, the celebrities might sign a big-bucks deal, but on the cover, at least, they will generally keep their clothes on.

Take a look at the Playboy covers, post continues after gallery:

Playboy, once a shocking newsletter for a sexual revolution, hasn’t been cool for decades, and something had to be done. Becoming one of the very few magazines that will feature pictures of women with their clothes ON could be heralded as revolutionary indeed, but it remains to be seen if it will save its skin in an impossibly difficult market.

But if PLAYBOY can see that semi-tame pictures of naked women are old fashioned, how long will it be until the more “respectable” magazines will admit that lists grading people on their attractiveness are cringe-inducing in their irrelevance?

It’s a game we’ve all played for decades, and not only with women, of course. People magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive is one of Hollywood’s most coveted crowns, with Brad Pitt and George Clooney passing it back and forth for much of the noughties until Chris Hemsworth and Channing Tatum came along and hip-and-shouldered them out of the way.


People’s Sexiest Men Alive. Story continues after gallery:

FHM’s 100 Sexiest Women list is poured over for who has dropped a few places and who has risen — what great crime was committed to see Miley or Kendall or Kim slip a high heel off the rankings ladder this year. Had they been paying attention to other things than their sexiness? Lessons learned, girls.

But really. We live in a time where we rate each other instinctively with a finger swipe. We keep a close eye on our own ranking by posting only the most manicured and approved pictures to Instagram and Facebook. We rate everyone on our TV screens with a vote.

Like Playboy admitting that now nudes are everywhere there’s nothing interesting about having them in their pages, it seems inevitable that these rankings — made by faceless editors who are jostling with Hollywood agents for the sexiest stars who also happen to have something to promote right now — are soon to be declared pointless in these highly curated times.

Of course Emilia Clarke is sexy. But if I think that I already have 150 pictures of her I can see in various stages of undress at any time in my pocket.

It feels practically prehistoric to be then presented with a list of traits that women need to tick off to be themselves in with a chance of being classified as “sexy”, as randomly prescribed by some guy who didn’t get the memo that in 2015, women have lists they would much rather climb. And as prescribed by a magazine that won’t run a woman on its cover unless she has taken something off.

And as for taking the Mother Of Dragons Emilia Clarke, stripping her down to a sheet and running her under a coverline dominated, not by her name, but by the words SEX FOOD and CARS.

Welcome to 1963, people. You know, back when Playboy was a ground-breaking magazine for the modern man.

Do you look at these lists?