Every year since 1964, the iconic calendar produced by the Italian tyre firm has celebrated women’s physical beauty, but for 2016 leading portrait photographer Annie Leibovitz has created a gallery of remarkable women who are leaders in their fields.
They are: actress and UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Yao Chen, model and charity founder Naked Heart Russia, Natalia Vodianova, Lucasfilm boss Kathleen Kennedy, who is helming the new Star Wars trilogy and spin-offs, Agnes Gund, President Emerita of the Museum of Modern Art, tennis player Serena Williams, critic and writer Fran Lebowitz; the President of Ariel Investments, Mellody Hobson; film director Ava DuVernay, blogger Tavi Gevinson, founder of Style Rookie; Iranian visual artist Shirin Neshat; artist and musician Yoko Ono; singer Patti Smith and actress and stand-up comedian Amy Schumer.
Leibovitz celebrates what is beautiful inside about women, with the subjects selected for their achievements. All but three remain fully clothed.
The exceptions are tennis player Williams, who portrays strength, posing topless, with her back to the camera, and Schumer, who’s playing for laughs.
The only professional model Vodianova – reputed to be the third-highest earning model in the world – portrays motherhood, posing with her baby son Maxim.
“When Pirelli approached me, they said they wanted to make a departure from the past,” said Leibovitz. “They suggested the idea of photographing distinguished women. After we agreed on that, the goal was to be very straightforward. I wanted the pictures to show the women exactly as they are, with no pretense. “I’m a great admirer of comediennes. The Amy Schumer portrait added some fun. It’s as if she didn’t get the memo saying that she could keep her clothes on.”
You can see Pirelli calendars old and new at Pirelli’s dedicated website.