The Pirelli Calendar is possibly the most famous, and hotly anticipated calendar in the world, sorry Peter Andre. For those of you who are wondering what on earth can be exciting or anticipated about a calendar, let me explain. The Pirelli Calendar was first launched in 1964 simply as promotional material for the Italian company’s tyres. The Calendar, also known as “The Cal” sparked the interest of world renowned photographers and models, from Mario Testino and Karl Lagerfeld, to Cindy Crawford and Kate Moss. Known for its exotic locations and gorgeous models, with very little clothing on, “The Cal” is never sold, only given to an exclusive group of 20,000 “VIP’s, musicians, politicians and royalty” according to a company spokesman.
The 2016 Pirelli Calendar was shot by legendary photographer Annie Leibovitz and features twelve women who have helped shaped the world we live in. The line-up is full of female heroes, from Patti Smith and Serena Williams to Yoko Ono and Amy Schumer. This is the second time Leibovitz has worked on the calendar, making her one of the ten photographers who have shot two editions since its debut, as well as one of only four female photographers who have shot it. The images will take the form of candid portraits, she says “When Pirelli approached me, they said they wanted to make a departure from the past…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 year we have seen a huge cultural shift in the way women are portrayed, from ‘lads mags’ FHM and Zoo coming off the shelves to Playboy, the king of lad mags, ended nudity on its pages. The Pirelli Calendar also highlights this ongoing shift in the public objectification of female sexuality. Jennifer Zimmerman, the global chief strategy officer for the McGarryBowen adveritising agency told The New York Times “We call it the rise of the shero” – the female hero –“We are in the midst of a perfect storm of cultural icons and politics and Hollywood…between the first credible woman presidential candidate, all the powerful female characters on television from ‘Supergirl’ to ‘Madam Secretary’ to ‘Scandal’, the pressure for parity in pay, it is impossible to ignore the empowerment of women. Besides, who uses a calendar anymore? It has to stand for something else”
Marco Tronchetti Provera, the chairman of the tyre company, said “This is a very special day in the history of the Pirelli calendar…we asked Annie to do something different: a calendar about the quality of women around the world…Women who have done something outstanding in their lives, coming from every corner of the world”. Let’s hope 2016 follows suit with the celebration of both brains and beauty.
All images by Annie Leibovitz and are from The NYTimes