News: Pirelli trades in its nude models for influential women

Originally published on Dazed Digital 23rd September 2015

For those expecting sexy models in skin tight clothing in this year’s Pirelli Calendar, you’ll be in for a shock. Dubbed as fashion’s NSFW calendar, Pirelli have decided to make a change this year – and quite a big one at that.

In a series of sneak peaks it’s been announced that their 2016 calendar won’t include pictures of supermodels or some of the world’s sexiest women as it’s previously done. Instead it’s traded in it’s iconic formula of nearly nude women for 13 portraits of strong women changing the world we live in.

Shooting this year’s calendar is famed portrait photographer Annie Leibovitz, who recently took her modern ‘Women’ project on the road with pop-up exhibitions.

Instead of the usual lineup of models like Gigi Hadid and Adriana Lima, who have previously graced its pages, this year’s calendar will feature Yoko Ono, Patti Smith, Serena Williams, American author Fran Lebowitz, Amy Schumer, Tavi Gevinson, Selma director Ava DuVernay, American philanthropist Agnes Gund, blockbuster producer Kathleen Kennedy, Natalia Vodianova, American businesswoman Mellody Hobson, Iranian visual artist Shirin Neshat, and Chinese actress Yao Chen.

In a release, Leibovitz explained: “I started to think about the roles that women play, women who have achieved something. I wanted to make a classic set of portraits. I thought that the women should look strong but natural, and I decided to keep it a very simple exercise of shooting in the studio.”

“This calendar is so completely different. It is a departure. The idea was not to have any pretense in these pictures and be very straightforward,” she added.

Leibovitz’s vision for the new empowering calendar is definitely inspiring, but how will Pirelli’s idea to change their winning formula of 50 plus years go down? Patti Smith told Vogue: “I have no idea what the average recipient would think, but I think that they should appreciate a bold move. We’ll see.

Tavi Gevinson also told Vogue: “I feel completely unworthy, I’m honoured. I think it’s amazing to be a part of this group of women who are being celebrated for so many different things in something that’s traditionally celebrating one thing – which is also great!”

Patti Smith and Annie Leibovitz have long been partners-in-crime, making it a no-brainer for the punk rocker. “It was fantastic because I’ve been shooting with Annie since the 70s, and so we’ve been through the trenches together,” said Smith. “I was very surprised that I was asked, and I was very proud that I was asked, and I think that Annie is doing something unique and different, and Pirelli is making a bold move. I look at Annie’s project not as a protest, but as a celebration.”

Leibovitz’s choices are certainly cool and without doubt reflect top women in their fields. There are a lot of women killing it right now, so we’re sure picking the top 13 would have been difficult. Surely, Rose McGowan would have been a top contender? Or Gia Coppola? Or even FKA twigs? Who would you have picked?

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