Since launching in 1964, the famous Pirelli Calendar has been known to feature the world's top models, mostly nude, captured by renowned photographers. The 43rd edition, which debuted today in London, took a major departure from previous years, trading the Cal's NSFW tradition of spotlighting overt sexuality (2015's Steven Meisel and Carine Roitfeld collaboration, for instance, had Gigi Hadid, Joan Smalls, and Adriana Lima dressed in BDSM-worthy latex lingerie), for portraits of accomplished writers, filmmakers, artists, and philanthropists instead. The full roster—a mix reaching across not only industries but also ages and backgrounds—features Rookie founder Tavi Gevinson, tennis legend Serena Williams, comedian Amy Schumer, artist/activist Yoko Ono, writer Fran Lebowitz, musician and author Patti Smith, supermodel Natalia Vodianova, film producer Kathleen Kennedy, Chinese actress Yao Chen, business and financial mogul Mellody Hobson, director and screenwriter Ava DuVernay, art collector and chairman of MoMA PS1 Agnes Gund with granddaughter Sadie Rain Hope-Gund, and Iranian visual artist Shirin Neshat.
Annie Leibovitz was behind the lens for the 2016 calendar and was given full reign to cast the 12 months of famous faces. The iconic photographer, who helmed the 2000 Pirelli calendar, said in a press conference today, "Pirelli came to me and told me they wanted to shift this year to something different. I made the suggestion that they do women performance artists or women comedians, almost a take-off. I just thought of women I admired and I didn't let anyone in the studio from Pirelli. It became a very strong set of very simple portraits [...] No one was supposed to look like they tried in these pictures." She continued, "I still can't believe the women who agreed to do it, did it. I felt a big responsibility to that [...] It shouldn't be a big step, but it is a big step," Leibovitz went on to highlight that, in addition to featuring a new group of accomplished women, the calendar is more book-like this year, also featuring a paragraph about each woman's work and influence.
Amy Schumer, December
One standout photo in the calendar is of Amy Schumer, who fronts December and is pictured wearing nothing but panties and heels, drinking from a Starbucks cup. When she arrived at the New York studio back in May, Leibovitz proposed on the spot that she pose nude ironically, as if she didn't get the memo that everyone else was clothed. Leibovitz explained, "She got the whole concept completely. She's so bright. She was willing to play that role. I was worried for her, I said 'Are you self-conscious?' [Amy] said, 'Are you kidding? I love my body.'"
Serena Williams, April
While launched by an Italian company that mainly manufactures tires, Pirelli's calendar is now a novelty within the fashion industry for being a who's who of talent both for models, which have included Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, as well as photographers like Richard Avedon, Peter Lindbergh, Mario Testino, and Patrick Demarchelier. It's become a collector's item, with people buying editions at auction and even paying $2,000 for them (that's the price of the sold out collector's edition 50th anniversary book). Part of the allure lies in its exclusivity–the calendar is not available for purchase to the public and is given only to top clients and VIPs. Luckily, we've got a preview of the incredible photos to share with you, here.
Patti Smith, November
Tavi Gevinson, August
Agnes Gund and Sadie Rain-Hope Gund
Yao Chen, Foreword
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