In 2016, Annie Leibovitz took the Pirelli calendar in a new direction. Instead of featuring top models in lingerie, as in many of the previous 50 editions, the famed photographer shot Serena Williams, Tavi Gevinson, Yoko Ono, and other “strong but natural women who have achieved something.” The tire company called it a “radical and inspirational departure from previous years” — and for 2017, the pinups of calendars past are still sitting on the sidelines.
Released on Tuesday, the new edition of “The Cal” stars 14 famous actresses, including Nicole Kidman, Lupita Nyong’o, Penélope Cruz, Jessica Chastain, Uma Thurman, Kate Winslet, Julianne Moore, Robin Wright, Rooney Mara, Léa Seydoux, Zhang Ziyi, and Charlotte Rampling.
The photos, taken by Peter Lindbergh, also feature Alicia Vikander, who’s the youngest model at 27. Meanwhile, 71-year-old Helen Mirren is the oldest. Also included in the group is Anastasia Ignatova, a professor of political theory at Moscow State University of International Relations.
“In the time when women are represented in the media, in every way else, as ambassadors of perfection and youth, I thought it was important to remind everyone that there is a different beauty, more real and truthful, and not manipulated by commercial or any other interests,” said Lindbergh, who also photographed the 1996 and 2002 calendars, at a press conference in Paris. “That is important, no? Beauty that speaks about individuality, courage to be yourself, and your very own sensibility. That’s my definition of a woman today. That is the goal of the calendar, to show that woman and not the stretched and manipulated [woman often shown in the media].”
All the images, 40 in total, are black-and-white portraits — and none of them are retouched. As Lindbergh noted, he wanted to make a statement against society’s desire for the maintenance and infallibility of youth. “I wanted to portray women not in terms of their perfection, but through their feelings and emotions,” the photographer explained. “That’s why I called this edition of the calendar ‘Emotional’: not some artificial perfection, but the real world and the emotions that well up behind the faces of these women.”
The subjects all wear simple, unrevealing clothing, with the images focusing on their souls and entire beings as opposed to specific, often sexualized, body parts. The one close-up not of a face is of Winslet’s hands. “I asked Peter specifically to photograph the backs of my hands because aged 40 I can see how different they are from when I was 30 and when I was 20 and I love looking at that,” Winslet said. “I don’t want people to change how I look. People are constantly trying to make us look a softer version of 40 or a more youthful, fresher version of 50. Isn’t it OK to just be 40, or 50, or 60?”
Mirren sent a similar message. “My advice for young girls would be to look at the Pirelli calendar. The reality is we live, we love, we continue, we contribute, and that’s the role of women,” she said. “It’s incredibly challenging for young girls these days, and we must remind them that life goes on for a long time, and you’ll be many things in that time.”