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Known for its Nudes, the 2016 Pirelli Calendar Celebrates Brains Over Bodies


Photograph: Annie Leibovitz for Pirelli

The 2016 Pirelli Calendar was unveiled on Monday and the annual edition shot by Annie Leibovitz (who also snapped the 2000 edition) presents a dramatic shift in the standard Pirelli aesthetic. Known to showcase scantily clad supermodels posing provocatively in exotic locations, this year’s Pirelli calendar uses its international fame to celebrate the beauty of women that stems from hard work.

“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,” reflected Leibovitz while describing the 2016 calendar.


Photograph: Annie Leibovitz for Pirelli

During the launch, Leibovitz expanded on that idea, noting that none of the photos had been taken with consideration of the male gaze. This is the first time that the calendar highlights women for their brains and not for their bodies, and by promoting a refreshing and unconventional representation of female beauty, signifies a cultural shift in society. “Perhaps clothed women are going to have a moment,” remarked celebrated author Fran Lebowitz.

The 2016 Pirelli calendar features 13 exceptional women who were chosen for their achievements in the worlds of business, sport, and art—11 of them are fully clothed. The sportswoman Serena Williams is shot with her back towards the camera, showcasing her gleaming muscles and incredible strength that have helped her to win her over 20 Grand Slam singles titles and Olympic medals. Comedian Amy Schumer is slumped over a stool holding a coffee cup and wears nothing but underwear and heels—the idea behind her photo is that she’s the only one who didn’t get the memo about wearing clothes.

Natalia Vodianova, the only supermodel to be featured in this edition, was brought on board for her philanthropic work. She is seen holding her son Max, whose father is Antoine Arnault, CEO of Berluti (and scion of LVMH Chairman and CEO Bernard Arnault), and wears a long, dramatic outerwear that shows off but one leg. Kathleen Kennedy, who is the founder of Lucasfilm (Star Wars franchise) and one of the most successful Hollywood film directors, is also featured.

Photograph: Annie Leibovitz for Pirelli

Photographs: Annie Leibovitz for Pirelli

77-year old art collector, philanthropist, and former president of the Museum of Modern Art, Agnes Gund is photographed embracing her granddaughter, Sadie Rain Hope-Gund. Meanwhile, the 65-year-old best-selling author Fran Lebowitz is photographed wearing a man’s oversized jacket.

Mellody Hobson, who was raised by a single mother in constrained financial circumstances in Chicago, has gone on to become the president of a US $10 billion money management firm, Ariel Investments and is also portrayed by Leibovitz.

One of the few African-American female film directors, Ava Duvernay, who directed Selma, is pictured.

The witty and brilliant Tavi Gevinson, a cultural phenomenon who began weighing in on fashion at the tender age of 12, poses dressed in all black.

Photograph: Annie Leibovitz for Pirelli

Talented visual artist and filmmaker Shirin Neshat grew up in Iran before the Islamic revolution, and makes films portraying Muslim women.Here, her signature thick kohl-lined eyes pierce the frame.
Musician, performer, and political activist Yoko Ono poses in a top hat, tuxedo jacket, and tights.

Patti Smith, who inspired generations of musicians and is featured on the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, is portrayed in jeans and boots.

Chinese actress Yao Chen, who is not only popular for her appearances in rom-coms, but was also named the first Chinese Goodwill Ambassador to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, appears in the forward.

The 43rd edition of the Pirelli calendar, which will be produced in limited quantities for key clients is nothing short of a collector’s piece—and one that everyone can be proud of.

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