The Pirelli Calendar is known for featuring the most well-known and desirable models in the industry, normally posing nude and then being passed off as art. However the 2016 edition has seen a radical turn for the infamous annual publication with Annie Liebovitz at its creative helm with an unexpected outlook for the high-status but thus-far stale photo project.
As you may have guessed ‘The Cal’’ (as industry insiders so endearingly refer to it), is essentially a modern-day pin-up calendar, because you know, those really helped positively develop the universal image of women. That being said, frankly, the intrigue of being able to ogle at the naked physiques that comprise the worlds most aesthetically privileged is as irresistible to me as it would be to many an adolescent male. The fantastic catch here however is that whilst the images are most certainly NSFW, one’s curiosity may be justified through the so-called pursuit of an ‘artistic appreciation’ and the exclusivity of the calendar’s distribution (it may not be purchased – it’s instead sent to a select few), certainly perpetuate the aura of mystique and inaccessible beauty that the calendar upholds just so damn well.
The 2015 edition saw veteran models Adriana Lima, Isabelli Fontana and Karen Elson alongside then-newcomer Gigi Hadid and other’s flock before the prestigious lens of Steven Meisel with a fetish theme, devised and styled by former French editor of Vogue Carine Roitfeld. In pink latex, legs spread and breasts pert as ever, the beehives atop the sculpted faces of fashions’ finest exemplified the embarrassing plateau at which the legendary calendar had arrived.
With live animal props, a breast-feeding model or even, *gasp* the actual inclusion of clothes parading around as feats of originality in past editions of the flesh-favouring calendar, the universal eyebrow raise at the turnaround for 2016 was actually a long-awaited reaction. A fierce Serena Williams, adorable Tavi Gevinson and legendary Yoko Ono grace the pages of Liebovitz’s rejuvenation of the tired institution, having been told that Pirelli were looking ‘for a departure’. Even the soothing instrumental jazz of the behind the scenes video lures you into normality, comfort, the pragmatic.
However, I am sceptical about the reappearance of Natalia Vodianova – impeccably styled and draped in satin, I wondered if Pirelli couldn’t just make a completely clean break. The legendary beauty is indeed the founder of her own charity but perhaps there was another face more representative of the philanthropic world than her own. The model profiles on the official website also leave a little to be desired… Besides these teeny-tiny niggles that my cynicism refuses to cede to, 2016 is certainly a positive and modern step forward for the Italian powerhouse. Ava Duvernay, modelling July approved of Pirelli ‘embracing the moment that we’re in’. It would be awesome to see that ‘moment’ endure, and hopefully Pirelli will prove my cynicism wrong and continue to embrace the blurred, ever growing and defiant idea of what beauty and femininity means today, working to dismantle the absolutely non-sensical ‘naked girl + fast car’ motif from within.
Images: Harpers Bazaar, siesta jh via Flickr