Saturday 1 October 2016

Women in the driving seat as Pirelli launches new calendar

Adam Sherwin

Published 01/12/2015 | 02:30

Yao Chen attends a Photocall to launch the 2016 Pirelli Calendar by Annie Leibovitz at Grosvenor House
Yao Chen attends a Photocall to launch the 2016 Pirelli Calendar by Annie Leibovitz at Grosvenor House
Kathleen Kennedy
Amy Schumer

It might only be pinned up at some enlightened garages, but the Pirelli calendar has signalled a break with history by replacing nude images of supermodels with a feminist collection depicting "women of achievement", photographed by Annie Leibovitz.

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For 50 years, the Italian tyre manufacturer has relied upon nude models, shot in exotic locations

But Ms Leibovitz, the acclaimed portrait photographer, said the 2016 edition marked a "shift" 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.

Activists

Ranging from online activists to octogenarians, the 12 subjects were chosen for their contribution to "making a difference to the world".

They include Yoko Ono (83), 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 echoes the decision by 'Playboy' magazine to abandon nude pictures when it relaunches next year. Instead of provocative pouting, the Pirelli naked flesh is provided by a "body study" of Serena Williams - who appears topless with her back to the camera in a pose which emphasises her glistening muscles - and the stand-up comedian Amy Schumer.

Unveiling the calendar in London, Ms Leibovitz joked that Ms Schumer 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. "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 black and white images but she had tried to avoid too much digital enhancement. Other models include Tavi Gevinson, founder of online magazine 'Rookie', who has been described as "the world's most influential teenager". (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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