The 2016 Pirelli Calendar Photographed by Annie Leibovitz Is Out

But don't call it a 'feminist' turning point, Leibovitz says.

Patti Smith, Photo: Courtesy of Pirelli and Annie Leibowitz
Serena Willimas <br> Photo: Courtesy of Pirelli and Annie Leibowitz

Serena Williams. 
Photo: Courtesy of Pirelli and Annie Leibovitz.

The annual release of the Pirelli calendar, which recently marked its 50th anniversary, is always accompanied by a small media frenzy, as the glossy pages traditionally feature artful photographs of Amazonian-bodied supermodels shot by renowned photographers.

But for the long-awaited 2016 Pirelli calendar, released on Monday, photographer Annie Leibovitz shook things up by focusing her lens on muses she described in the press release as “distinguished women,” chosen for their accomplishments rather than physique alone.

Agnes Gund and Sadie Rain Hope-Gund <br> Photo: Courtesy of Pirelli and Annie Leibovitz

Agnes Gund and Sadie Rain Hope-Gund. 
Photo: Courtesy of Pirelli and Annie Leibovitz.

Another novelty in the 2016 edition is the use of textiles: Yoko Ono is photographed wearing her signature top hat; artist Shirin Neshat is sporting an intricate necklace, and thick eyeliner; Patti Smith is as cool as ever in her white-blouse-black-vest stage attire (most likely designed by her friend, Belgian designer Ann Demeulemeester).

The total of 13 subjects also includes art collector and chairman of MoMA PS1 Agnes Gund, who posed with her granddaughter Sadie Rain Hope-Gund, model Natalia Vodianova, Kathleen Kennedy, Fran Lebowitz, Mellody Hobson, Ava DuVernay, Tavi Gevinson, Yao Chen, Serena Williams, and Amy Schumer.

Patti Smith <br> Photo: Courtesy of Pirelli and Annie Leibowitz

Patti Smith. 
Photo: Courtesy of Pirelli and Annie Leibovitz.

Though the calendar focuses on non-nudity, the behind-the-scenes images released in September hinted that some subjects will bare more. And indeed, Schumer and Williams are photographed wearing only underwear.

In the press release, Leibovitz explained that these two portraits were conceptual: April model Williams’s photo was “not a nude but a body study,” while December girl Schumer’s, pictured drinking a latte in her underwear, was meant as a comic whim. “The idea was that she was the only one who had not got the memo about wearing clothes.”

Schumer posted the image on her twitter, with the caption: “Beautiful, gross, strong, thin, fat, pretty, ugly, sexy, disgusting, flawless, woman. Thank you @annieleibovitz.”


The calendar is not for sale and is only sent to a select few, but the images, which circulate online, are sure to make an impact. The calendar’s May model, cultural commentator Fran Lebowitz summed it in her usual sardonic manner: “Perhaps clothed women are going to have a moment.”

The company’s chief-executive, Marco Tronchetti Provera, added that the tyre manufacturer has been seeking a new direction for its legendary calendar, and that the new format felt “very timely,” as the portraits show “women who have done something outstanding in their lives, from every corner of the world.” “This represents what Pirelli thinks is beautiful,” he added.

But don’t call it a feminist turning point for the brand, said Leibovitz, who also photographed a version of the Pirelli calendar in 2000, featuring nudes. “Pirelli has always given free rein to the photographer,” she explained, “so it’s really about choice of photographer.”

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