The Pirelli Calendar as it stands today, is over half a century old, having celebrated its 50th in 2015. And what it very much is now, is legacy, and a legacy among the longest standing in fashion, if not media in general. Pirelli’s UK subsidiary that’s been publishing the calendar for oh-so-long now has been putting out something remarkable since day one, filling the pages with only the most glamorous, striking, sometime beautiful and controversial subject of their respective time periods, and all shot by the photographers who were nothing if not the best, or entirely avant-garde, and each of whom remains an icon in their own right.
The short list of shooters is a special group, within it names like Greg Avedon, Francis Giacobetti, Herb Ritts, Robert Freeman, Bruce Weber, Mario Testino, Peter Lindbergh, Patrick Demarchelier, Helmut Newton, and Leibovitz. An even smaller list would be those invited back to shoot more than one, people like Peter Lindbergh who has shot the 1996, 2002, and now 2017 calendar.
This year is all at once a departure from the norm of photography today, and a return to form for the calendar that had been spun quite differently last year. This year focused on talented iconic actresses; Nicole Kidman, Lupita Nyong’o, Penélope Cruz, Jessica Chastain, Uma Thurman, Kate Winslet, Julianne Moore, Robin Wright, Rooney Mara, Léa Seydoux, Zhang Ziyi, and Charlotte Rampling. That reads like the RSVP list at the Oscars, except perhaps more honest.
This year, Lindbergh’s ‘cry against the terror of perfection and youth’ pulled the woman, the person, from behind a veil and revealed something authentic. It’s nothing entirely new, of course, but still somewhat a statement. That the women look absolutely striking, real, and beautiful is a testament to Lindebergh’s inimitable ability and the sort of raw beauty so much of photography has been devoid of for so long. We don’t always want utter perfection anymore, or at least how we define it has shifted. And what this all suggests too, given the lack of photoshop, the relatively basic gear and set-ups (D810 anyone?) and lack of make-up, and incredible result, is that there’s absolutely still a place, a desire, and a market for photography. We should all have a copy, though sadly, hardly an of us will…
Check out more about ‘The Cal’ here.