In 24 Hours, Pirelli’s Calendar Showed How Quickly a Brand Can Modernize Its Image

1 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Doug Camilli: Pirelli calendar changes direction.

The old order changeth: for many years, the Italian tire company Pirelli has produced a calendar featuring pin-up photos of glamorous babes, many of them famous. The lucky few who actually receive a Pirelli calendar, a sought-after item vaguely shrouded in mystery that suggests one has ‘arrived’, may be surprised to find that this year the women were chosen for their accomplishments, not their racks. In the past, the main attraction of the female subjects in the Pirelli calendar, which has been the subject of several high-end coffee table books, was that they had a certain, er, pneumatic quality. The photographer for the 2016 calendar is none other than Annie Leibovitz, who has stated at a press conference that none of the calendar photos was thought up with the male gaze in mind. She let it all hang out as the face of December 2016 in the annual calendar, which this year honors accomplished women in photos shot by iconic photographer Annie Leibovitz.

They include Fran Lebowitz, the sardonic cultural commentator and author; Yoko Ono, the artist who, at 82, is still provoking and relevant; Kathleen Kennedy, film producer (Lincoln, ET, Jurassic Park) who is second only to Steven Spielberg in domestic box office receipts; Shirin Neshat, an Iranian artist; Tavi Gevinson, the 19-year-old writer, magazine editor and actress who came to fame at 12 for her blog, Fashion Rookie; Patti Smith, the iconic American singer-songwriter; Mellody Hobson, president of Ariel Investments, a $10-billion money management firm; Serena Williams, considered the world’s greatest tennis player, male or female; and Amy Schumer, the comedian known for her frank depiction of modern life as a woman. The annual pin-up pile-on for the rich and famous usually consists of art shots of semi-naked models and movie stars, so this year’s concept, to feature real women, is a big deal.

Previous years have focused solely on models on actresses–in fact, every major model of the past few decades seems to have made an appearance, including Cindy Crawford, Adriana Lima, Gigi Hadid, Miranda Kerr, Iman, Heidi Klum, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Naomi Campbell, and Kate Moss. Schumer of course made a joke of it, posing almost undressed (but safe for work) on the premise that she “didn’t get the memo” about the new style.

As for actresses Penelope Cruz, Brittany Murphy, Julianne Moore and Sienna Miller have posed for a string of famous photographers like Leibovitz, Karl Lagerfeld, Herb Ritts, and Bruce Weber. The Nine O, as it’s known, is right near the University of Southern California campus, and famous for cheap booze (half-price happy hour: 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. every day). The 2012 calendar, for example, shot by Mario Sorrenti, features beautiful photos of such models as Guinevere Van Seenus, Kate Moss, Milla Jovovich, Malgosia Bela and Natasha Poly, all mostly naked. The infamous Terry Richardson shot the 2010 calendar; last year, a special anniversary calendar included photos taken by Helmut Newton in 1986: very retro, very sexy.

I wanted the pictures to show the women exactly as they are, with no pretense.” The other women include tennis player Serena Williams, singer Patti Smith, supermodel Natalia Vodianova, actress Yao Chen, director Ava DuVernay, and artist Yoko Ono. It’s as if she is saying that, should measurements be applied to a woman’s appeal, use the ones that have more significance than simply the three circumferences of her physical form.

But May isn’t so sure, the Independent says: “I do think Freddie enjoyed the fact there were so many interpretations … It’s an outlandish song. Last year, Steven Meisel shot the “Pirelli girls,” all beautiful models, who wore latex – which felt like an amusing wink at all things rubbery. In 2013 when Steve McCurry was the photographer (remember his green-eyed Afghan girl on the cover of National Geographic?) all the models remained clothed. This year’s calendar for 2016 actually does feature a little skin — both comic Amy Schumer and tennis great Serena Williams are almost naked — but it’s an entirely different kettle of fish.

I just think that’s why we love songs – they can do something to us that a piece of text can’t.” Pretty much everybody connected with Fox’s long-running detective show Bones, right down to the third assistant dolly grip, seems to be lining up to sue over the show’s accounting. She has said the latest calendar approach of black-and-white photographs, shot in a simple studio setting, was her idea, conceived without influence from Pirelli. “I started to think about the roles that women play, women who have achieved something,” she explained in a video about the shoot. “I wanted to make a classic set of portraits. I thought that the women should look strong but natural.” In a hyper-visual culture, in which nudity has long since lost its shock value, the most subversive thing you can do is create a pin-up calendar with real people in regular clothes. Most of the women in these portraits represent not just success and social contribution but also immense power, usually in the arts — in a positive, ground-breaking kind of way.

To me, that decision and the new Pirelli calendar are less about “a flexion point in the public objectification of female sexuality” – which is how one observer put it – and more about the simple imperative to be different from the rest. They say Fox conned them out of “tens of millions of dollars” – in the words of the Deschanel-Boreanaz suit – by withholding documents and playing fast and loose with the financial books. Maybe on that calendar you’d get photos of Bruce Springsteen and Warren Buffett, with everyone impressed because there’s no mention of their washboard abs or penis size! As Gevinson explained to The New York Times about the 2016 Pirelli calendar, “a white, able-bodied cis-gendered woman being naked is just not revolutionary any more.” That traditional pin-up doesn’t make headlines, produce column inches or create chatter about the brand she is representing. After her latest court triumphs in 2015 – winning the Australian Open, the French Open and Wimbledon – onlookers, once again, discussed her bulk and strength and perceived masculinity.

As her boss says in Trainwreck, the movie Schumer wrote and starred in, she is “pretty-ish.” If she had a perfect body, she wouldn’t be as popular.

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