The Pirelli calendar has a troubling history regarding its overt objectification of women but in recent years it has reinvented itself, using its cultural standing to tackling important conversation topics. 2018 is no exception, with the iconic calendar featuring an all-black cast of different ages from a range of backgrounds.
John Tenniel’s original Alice in Wonderland illustrations were the inspiration behind British fashion photographer Tim Walker and British Vogue’s incoming first black editor Edward Enninful’s beautiful, revolutionary imagery, which sees the models interpret the characters of the Mad Hatter, the Queen of Hearts, the caterpillar and more.
Australian model Duckie Thot takes the lead role as Alice, actor RuPaul is the Queen of Hearts, South African albino model Thando Hopa stars as the Princess of Hearts, while fashion superstar Naomi Campbell plays the Royal Beheader and actress Whoopi Goldberg, the Royal Duchess. Rapper Sean Combs, British model and activist Adwoa Aboah and Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o also feature.
The Pirelli calendar, which launched in 1964, first featured an all-black cast in 1987. Campbell modelled in it, then aged just 16. But the need to keep pushing boundaries, rather than conforming to thin, white modelling stereotypes, is still highly relevant today, with a lack of diversity remaining a major issue for the fashion industry.
“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.”
Pirelli first swerved away from purely focusing on sex with its 2016 issue featuring powerful women primarily famous for their talent and achievements (Serena Williams, Mellody Hobson, Amy Schumer etc), shot by renowned portrait photographer Annie Leibovitz.
Peter Lindbergh continued breaking the mould last year, shooting the (fully-clothed, quelle horreur!) likes of Julianne Moore and Nicole Kidman for a totally unairbrushed black-and-white calendar.
Both of those calendars were awesome in their own ways, but 2018’s is our favourite yet.
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Originally Published: 20th July 2017
Updated: 13 Nov 2017