Up until 2016, the Pirelli Calendar was known for depicting a somewhat backwards view of women, photographing models and famous faces in little to no clothing.
But over the past couple of years, the tyre manufacturer has changed its course to a more feminist one.
In 2016, photographer Annie Leibovitz was enlisted to revolutionise the calendar, churning out gorgeous black-and-white shots of strong women from the worlds of sport, art and culture.
Last year, Peter Lindbergh captured Hollywood’s top women including a fully covered Nicole Kidman and Uma Thurman. Each photo was un-retouched, showing the actresses in all their natural glory.
For 2018, the calendar has gone one step further, choosing an all-black cast.
In a concept devised by (white) fantastical photographer Tim Walker and new British Vogue editor Edward Enninful, the likes of supermodel Naomi Campbell appear alongside actress Lupita Nyong’o, drag queen RuPaul and true icon Whoopi Goldberg.
The resulting shots show a twisted version of Alice in Wonderland complete with burnt toast and mouldy jam tarts.
Campbell plays the Royal Beheader with Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs at her side. Meanwhile, Nyong’o is a dormouse, Goldberg stars as the Royal Duchess and model Adwoa Aboah poses as Tweedledee.
The calendar release comes at a time when diversity is finally being addressed in the fashion industry. Enninful made history as the first black editor of Vogue while the recent AW17 collections had the most racially diverse model casting ever recorded.
“Inclusivity is more part of the conversation than it has ever been before, but it goes far beyond black and white,” Enninful told the New York Times. “It is about all creeds, all colours, all sizes and people just living their truths.”
Surprisingly, this isn’t the first time Pirelli has chosen an all-black line-up. In 1987, a 16-year-old Naomi Campbell appeared topless in an edition that included only black models.
Lawyer-turned-model Thando Hopa also appears in the 2018 calendar. She admitted to the Guardian that she did have reservations about the all-black concept.
“[Tim Walker] said any person with a different colour should be able to see themselves in any way,” she commented. “So any girl, whether she is black or Chinese or Indian, they should be able to have their own fairytale.”
“This is an important step in culture development – to push images that aren’t generic, that don’t conform to stereotypes.”
“I hope that people see the intention of this,” she added. “Personally I don’t find it controversial … I think people really should see the end goal and not obsess in the myopia.”
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