“Clothed Women Have A Moment:” The Pirelli Calendar Gets A Feminist Makeover

The Pirelli Calendar Gets A Feminist Makeover


by Emma Spedding |
Published on

Traditionally the Pirelli Calendar is a textbook of 'very sexy,' with NSFW latex and a whole lot of nudity. But for 2016, the calendar is a feminist statement putting womens' achievements over their bra size.

The calendar was photographed by Annie Leibovitz and features black and white portraits of 13 accomplished women, including Serena Williams, Patti Smith, Yoko Ono, Amy Schumer, producer Kathleen Kennedy and the first Chinese UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Yao Chen.

In a behind-the-scenes film writer Fran Lebowitz says "perhaps clothed women will have a moment." There is still some nudity though, as Amy Schumer is the "one that didn't get the memo" captured sipping a cup of coffee in her sheer panties. Amy says that when she looked at her portrait she felt more beautiful than she has ever felt before.

Annie said that Serena's shoot wasn't a nude, but a "body study." Annie says she was going to photograph a body study of Serena Williams for US Vogue, but instead did a cover shoot on Anna Wintour's request. She explained: "If you look at the photograph, on the floor is a picture of Serena in Vogue where the dress is off and you see her back and her body. I knew exactly what I wanted to do, and I promised Serena I'd get her in and out in an hour. I didn't want to struggle with that photograph."


Pirelli 2016

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November - Patti Smith

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April - Serena Williams

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Foreword - Yao Chen. You might not have heard of her, but she may be one of the most famous people on the planet with over seventy million social-media followers in China.  In 2013 she was named one of the first Chinese Goodwill Ambassador to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

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December: Amy Schumer

Annie Leibovitz says of the shift in direction of 'The Cal': "They suggested the idea of photographing distinguished women. After we agreed on that, the goal was to be very straightforward. I wanted the pictures to show women as they are, with no pretense."

The calendar is structured more like a book this year, with a long paragraph explaining the work that each woman does. Annie said at a press conference in London that 'we need more than 12 months' as there are so many women she wanted to include.

Blogger Tavi Gevinson said of her portrait: "I actually cut my hair on the shoot, I went with longer hair. I had been wanting to cut it and I wanted to buzz it. Annie was like 'What's going on?' And I said I'm going for a change and she said 'Oh ok.' We shot before and after pictures and it gave me a lot of confidence to have that moment documented in my life."

When asked about whether the photographs were digitally enhanceed, Annie said: "There is very little work done. They are shot in black and white, which is very straight forward. There might have been a little cleaning up, but everything was straight forward which was important to stay that way."

Asked whether this is a watershed moment for Pirelli Annie said: "I do think they came to me with a mandate that they would like to see some change. Then I didn't let them in the door and kept Pirelli across the street and we did it. I don't think it's a watershed as much as a shift and being right on time."

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