Photography: Alessandro Scotti/via Pirelli
The Pirelli Calendar has come a long way. After decades of featuring scantily clad, of-the-moment models and actresses (most of whom were, of course, young, slim, and fair-skinned), the Italian tire brand decided to shake things up in 2016 by tapping Annie Leibovitz to lens the calendar. And shake things up she did. Her year featured women like Tavi Gevinson, Amy Schumer, Patti Smith, Serena Williams, and Yoko Ono. Last year’s calendar, shot by Peter Lindbergh, leaned a little more Hollywood, but still made a point to include older women (by Hollywood standards, at least) like Helen Mirren, Robin Wright, and Charlotte Rampling.
But this year takes the cake in terms of both cast and aesthetic. Tim Walker’s 2018 calendar features an all-black cast, which includes Naomi Campbell, Whoopi Goldberg, RuPaul, Diddy, Adwoa Aboah, Lupita Nyong’o, King Owusu, Lil Yachty, and Alpha Dia performing a twisted take on Alice in Wonderland, styled by Edward Enninful.
It’s actually not the first time Pirelli has done an all-black lineup — in 1987, a 16-year-old Campbell posed topless alongside Ione Brown, Collette Brown, Gillian de Terville, and Waris Dirie. But the vibe is (thankfully) very different this time, not least of all thanks to the addition of men, a first for the calendar. “It’s never been done before. Alice has never been told like this,” Walker, who is white, told The Guardian.
It’s refreshing to see the calendar truly diversified — even in the past two years, when it felt more about highlighting interesting, accomplished women than supermodels, it was still, to some degree, about female beauty. Sure, Amy Schumer and Helen Mirren’s looks are vastly different from that of a 16-year-old model, but at the end of the day, they’re both women who have made careers out of looking a certain way. And while it’s nice to see women with non-supermodel figures feel comfortable enough to participate in a nude or implied nude photo shoot, why does anyone have to be nude at all?
The calendars of the past two years, groundbreaking as they were, still lacked diversity and placed plenty of emphasis on women’s bodies, leaving room for society to judge and obsess about them (or, in Schumer’s case, call her “brave”). Only the decision to cast both men and women and to have everyone in costume — as opposed to playing at sexiness — has neutralized that. Finally, a Pirelli calendar everyone can enjoy.