Pirelli calendar used to be a guilty pleasure for the testosterones. Packed with sensual photos of text-book beauties, the annual calendar was always highly anticipated. However, the Italian tyre company has been trying to change its focus to be more relevant with today’s diverse ideas of beauty. In 2016, Annie Leibovitz shot a range of successful women, well-clothed rather than skimpily dressed as expected. In 2017, Peter Lindbergh lensed A-listers, the likes of Nicole Kidman, without makeup. The end product was almost not retouched, in favour of natural beauty.
For its 2018 calendar, Pirelli chooses to feature 28 high-profile black personalities. The all-star lineup include supermodel Naomi Campbell, actresses Whoopi Goldberg and Lupita Nyong’o, models Adwoa Aboah, Thando Hopa and Slick Woods, drag queen RuPaul, and rapper Sean “Diddy” Combs. They are photographed by Tim Walker, and styled by Edward Enninful.
More interestingly, the casts reenact scenes from Alice in Wonderland. “The story of Alice has been told so many times and in so many ways, but always with a white cast,” Walker told The New York Times. “There has never been a black Alice, so I wanted to push how fictional fantasy figures can be represented and explore evolving ideas of beauty.”
Selected figures are also champions of human rights-related causes. RuPaul have been introducing the different sides of a drag queen to the public through mass media, while Aboah is a feminist activist in her own rights. Earlier in March, she appeared on Vogue cover featuring models of different races. Hopa champions a different kind of beauty by being an albino model, as well as a lawyer.
“To me, the Pirelli change in direction suggests they are observing what 2017 needs, where the youth are going and what kind of imagery should be out there,” Aboah told The New York Times. “We don’t need any more pinup imagery, and this cast really does depict new ideas of what beauty is. And it certainly doesn’t mean not wearing any clothes.”