Bravo Pirelli! Age and accomplishment trump beauty in the new 2016 Pirelli Calendar

by
Anna Mooney.

Plaudits a-plenty for Pirelli, which has just pivoted its age-old nude supernova pin-up formula for its newest calendar. The 2016 Calendar line-up emphasises age, acumen and accomplishment over simply looking hot.

Real un-retouched, lived-in bodies and faces

Shot by Annie Leibovitz, the new edition has intimate - and mostly fully clothed - portraits of inspiring and influential women of every age who are making a difference in the world. Legends like Yoko Ono and Patti Smith  take their places alongside tennis ace Serena Williams, 65 year old author Fran Lebowitz seems in good company with 19 year old feminist blogger sensation Tavi Gevinson, actress Amy Schumer sips coffee in her underwear while Russian philanthropist Natalia Vodianova balances her fourth baby on her hip .

We love Pirelli's departure from the supernova nudity that defined most of its previous calendars. We love seeing these accomplished woman  - especially the midlife ones - in their real, unretouched, lived-in bodies and faces. Photographer Annie Leibovitz, herself a powerful role model for boomer women, revelled in the lack of artifice: "The idea was not to have any pretension in these pictures and be very straightforward"   she said.

Fran Lebowitz joked that " Women with their clothes on are having a moment", while Amy Schumer, who poses in panties and heels, showing a lovely but normal body,  ("she didn’t get the memo saying she could keep her clothes on",  joked the photographer) has surely created a new standard for the pin up: "I felt I was more beautiful than I've ever felt in my life. And I felt that it looked like me."

Pirelli’s initiative is in step with the fashion world’s current trend for celebrating women in their third acts:  American writer Joan Didion (80) fronted Celine’s Spring Summer campaign; Kate Spade chose the 93 years young fashion legend and interiors doyenne Iris Apfel to headline, while Joni Mitchel was the model du jour at Saint Laurent.  Cosmetics brands continue to champion their older role models: Charlotte Rampling at 60 was the face of Nars, while 60 something Dame Helen Mirren’s minimally retouched image was a shrewd marketing move by L’Oreal. 

Harper's Bazaar's video goes behind the scenes at the Pirelli Calendar shoot and beautifully sums up the empowered mood of the moment - as Director, screenwriter and July calendar girl Ava Duverney puts it: "It's a powerful moment for women around the world in all categories".

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