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Breaking Tradition: The 2016 Pirelli Calendar

This year’s Pirelli calendar looks a bit different. If you didn’t know what it looked like before, it can be described as a more sophisticated version of playboy that you could hang on your wall and use to countdown the days to Christmas, I suppose.

Change in the Pirelli calendar started in 2015. Steven Meisel shot the calendar, while Carine Roitfeld, who describes the calendar as featuring “nudity with no trace of vulgarity,” did the styling. The calendar was all the buzz last December, due to the inclusion of plus size model Candice Huffine, yet the amount of buzz it created is nothing close to this year’s.

Stand-up comedian, writer, actress and producer Amy Schumer

What’s new in this year’s calendar? Well, clothes to begin with. Apart from comedy queen Amy Schumer and tennis star Venus Williams who are pictured half naked, there’s no nudity. Most importantly, the calendar features women who are renowned for their work in diverse fields. To name a few: The first Chinese UNHCR goodwill ambassador Yao Chen, Iranian visual artist Shirin Neshat and film director Ava DuVernay.

 Filmmaker, marketer and distributer Ava DuVernay

Another important departure from Pirelli’s norm is this year’s photographer: Annie Leibovitz. Known for her work with major fashion houses such as Louis Vuitton, Leibovitz is the only woman, apart from husband-and-wife duo Inez and Vinoodh, who has photographed the calendar in the past 25 years. Leibovitz said that after coming to an agreement with Pirelli to shoot distinguished women, she wanted to show them exactly as they are. Judging from the pictures, that is exactly what she did. Compared to the older calendars, we see women being portrayed as women, not as objects. It would be naive to believe that one calender can change how the entire world views women, but you know what? It’s a pretty good start. 

As for Schumer’s shot, Leibovitz said during a press conference that “[t]he idea was that she was the only one who had not got the memo about wearing clothes.” That is exactly what we should expect Schumer to do and that’s what can be seen in the calendar. As Schumer puts it in her Instagram post sharing her photo for the calendar “Beautiful, gross, strong, thin, fat, pretty, ugly, sexy, disgusting, flawless, woman. Thank you Annie Leibovitz!”


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