Pirelli shuns supermodels for Serena Williams, Amy Schumer
IT MIGHT only be pinned up at the most enlightened mechanics' garage. But the annual Pirelli calendar has signalled a break with its history by replacing nude images of supermodels with a feminist collection depicting "women of achievement", photographed by Annie Leibovitz.
For fifty years, the Italian tyre manufacturer has relied upon arty pictures of nude models, shot in exotic locations, to fill its signature catalogue, which is distributed to an exclusive group of VIPs.
But Leibovitz, the acclaimed portrait photographer, said the 2016 edition marked a "shift" in society by shunning the likes of Kate Moss in favour of women, for the most part clothed, whose achievements range from philanthropy and finance to avant-garde art and punk poetry.
Ranging from online activists to octogenarians, the 12 subjects were chosen for the calendar for their contribution to "making a difference to the world."
They include Yoko Ono, 83, depicted in a corset and top hat, Patti Smith, the punk pioneer, Kathleen Kennedy, the chairperson of Lucasfilm who is guiding the new Star Wars film to screens and Mellody Hobson, the president of a Chicago money-management firm.
The move follows the decision by Playboy to abandon nude pictures when it relaunches next year and the absence of page 3 nipples in The Sun.
Instead of provocative pouting, the naked flesh is provided by a "body study" of Serena Williams, the tennis champion, who appears topless with her back to the camera in a pose which emphasises her glistening muscles.
Unveiling the calendar in London, Ms Leibovitz joked that Amy Schumer, the stand-up, was the only participant who "didn't get the memo saying she could keep her clothes on." The comedian volunteered to pose topless in her underwear.
"I'm 34, everything is about to drop, so let's get a shot of it before," said Schumer who agreed to a vanity-free portrait.
"Annie said 'let your stomach out'. I felt more beautiful than I ever felt before in my life."
Ms Leibovitz said the calendar celebrated "the important roles women play, who they are and their great achievements. I wanted to get a classic set of portraits of these woman I admired. I didn't worry about whether they were wearing clothes or not."
She added: "It is a departure. I think Pirelli has wanted to make a change for a few years. They came to me with a mandate. Then I literally didn't let anyone in the studio from Pirelli."
Ms Leibovitz admitted there had been "a little cleaning up" of her original black and white images but she had tried to avoid too much digital enhancement.
The calendar includes Tavi Gevinson, founder of online magazine Rookie, who has been described as "the world's most influential teenager"; actress Yao Chen, the first Chinese UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador and art collector and patroness Agnes Gund.
Fran Lebowitz, the critic and writer include in the line-up, said: "Perhaps clothed women are going to have a moment?"
Launched in 1964, the Pirelli calendar has collected glossy, high-fashion shots from celebrity photographers including Mario Testino, Herb Ritts and Bruce Weber. Christy Turlington and Naomi Campbell are among the supermodels who have disrobed for the cause.
Marco Tronchetti Provera, the Pirelli chairman and chief executive, said the shift from bodies to brains in this year's calendar "reflects contemporary society."
But with brand "buzz" a crucial factor in each calendar launch, there was no guarantee that Pirelli won't return to its previous flesh obsession in future years.