The Pirelli Calendar 2017 strips 15 beautiful women bare

This year’s eagerly anticipated calendar by Peter Lindbergh is all about exposing the women it features, but not in the way you’d expect.

Back in 1964, the Pirelli Calendar was just a bit of eye-candy, kindly provided by the Italian tyre maker to be hung on the walls of car mechanic garages far and wide. Forty-four editions later, and the trade calendar has become a kind of cultural barometer through which societal perceptions of beauty are reflected, examined and contested.

This year’s calendar, presented on Tuesday in Paris, is perhaps the farthest away from the original format as you could possibly get, with not a naked bottom or heaving bosom in sight. The world famous photographer Peter Lindbergh made the 2017 calendar about what he calls a “different type of sexy” to “high heels and bikinis”. 2016’s calendar, shot by Annie Leibovitz, represented the first leap away from the carefully curated, impossibly glamorous images of half-naked models for Pirelli, and the 2017 edition is in a similar vein.

Sorry gentlemen, but this year’s nakedness is purely figurative. The 14 internationally renowned actresses – hand-picked by Lindbergh, who believes them to be “the most talented women in the world” – are presented in minimal makeup and fully clothed. Instead of focusing on perfect bodies, Lindbergh conveys his idea of natural beauty and femininity by “stripping down to the very soul of the sitters, who thus become more nude than naked.”

Jessica Chastain, Penélope Cruz, Nicole Kidman, Rooney Mara, Helen Mirren, Julianne Moore, Lupita Nyong’o, Charlotte Rampling, Lea Seydoux, Uma Thurman, Alicia Vikander, Kate Winslet, Robin Wright and Zhang Ziyi, as well as a professor of Political Theory from Moscow University who Lindbergh met at a dinner, are presented across forty black and white photographs that are the very antithesis from the digitally enhanced, commercial images we see everywhere today.

This calendar is still at it’s core, a celebration of beauty, but about what Lindbergh sees as a “different beauty, more real and truthful – not manipulated by commercial interests”. Bemoaning the “blank faces” of the the “retouched, photoshopped woman you see everywhere today”, Lindbergh chose to present these actresses, some of whom are notably older than Pirelli’s previous women and all of whom in his eyes “stand up for something”, in a completely natural, unpolished and un-airbrushed format, and the results are pretty spectacular.

2017’s images are more sensual than overtly sexy – the calendar as a whole feels like the artistic equivalent of waking up next to a beautiful woman. You know that moment, when a woman is wearing no makeup and is at her most natural and vulnerable? The subjects have been captured in exactly that kind of a guise. The images are strikingly honest and stunningly personal; Lindbergh was all about getting the actresses to be themselves. Penélope Cruz spoke of how different these portraits are from any other photos you’ll see of the 14 actresses because their inherent intimacy: “it’s just us, we don’t have this other character protecting or covering us.”

From Cruz, who has photographed in New York after a knackering night of child care, to the image of Kate Winslet’s hands, which celebrates the grace in getting old, the kind of beauty celebrated here is a far cry from your typical glossy shoot. Nor are they anything like what Helen Mirren calls “red carpet faces” – the actresses all stare down the lens with unflinching eye contact. The images are sensuous because they feel so real, from the carnal close up of one actress’s lips to the wide shot of the House of Cards actress Robin Wright, it’s the sort of sexiness that we come across with the women we interact with in everyday life that’s celebrated here.

By rejecting impossible beauty standards, Pirelli has shown once again why, despite the fact that you can’t even buy the iconic calendar, it remains relevant today. Speaking at the press conference today, Helen Mirren argued that the 2017 calendar reflects a “cultural shift” towards widening conceptions of female beauty and spoke of her hope that young women could find solace from societal pressures in this year’s calendar. In the same way we’ve been trying to redefine masculinity in the modern day by asking “how to be a man”, this calendar is about restrictive notions of femininity and of female beauty. Lindbergh’s rejection of popular representations of beauty emancipates the women it features from rigid cultural expectations in a move Uma Thurman calls an act of “human empowerment”.

Speaking at the launch, Nicole Kidman reasoned that “being yourself is the epitome of confidence and power” and that’s precisely what this year’s photographs are all about. In our age and appearance obsessed society, Lindbergh’s cry against “the terror of perfection and youth” is one of resonance. It might not be the kind of Pirelli calendar we’re used to, but this is a format we can certainly get on board with.

This piece was originally published on GQ.co.uk

Sister Act: The Little Sisters Slaying the Fashion Game

Fashion is increasingly becoming a family affair. From Ruth and May Bell to the Delevingnes and the Jaggers, to all three of the sisters of male model of the moment Lucky Blue Smith, there’s no denying that the industry is saturated with siblings.

Four of the hottest names in fashion right now are actually the younger sisters of even bigger names. After all, good genes are good genes, and who doesn’t look up to their older siblings? From the relatively unknown Lottie Moss to established superstar Kylie Jenner, these are the four celebrity little sisters who are smashing 2016.

1. Bella Hadid
Age: 19
Insta Followers: 3.2m


Younger sister of super-star model Gigi Hadid and daughter of reality TV star/ model Yolanda Foster, Bella Hadid is one of the hottest faces in fashion right now. Bella signed with IMG Models in 2014 and has since risen through the ranks to emerge as ‘Model of the Year’ at Daily Front Row Awards a merefew days ago. She walked in numerous shows over fashion month, from Chanel to MiuMiu to Givenchy and Versace, is currently the face of the Joe Jeans campain and has been featured in editorial spreads for almost every magazine under the sun. As if all of this wasn’t enough, Bella is also one half of one of the world’s most enviable couples…She’s been dating the Weekend for a year, even following her older sister’s example by starring and one of his music videos. Her body is legit out of this world, check the Love Advent Calender and you’ll see what I mean. Bella is my number one girl crush of the moment, and definetly one to watch, as she’s only going to get bigger.

2. Lottie Moss
Age:18
Insta Followers: 51k

The younger half-sister of legendary model Kate Moss has just finished school and is now pursuing modelling full time. Whilst Lottie has stated on several occasions that she absolutely will not answer any ‘Kate questions’, the similarities between the sisters are inescapable. Like Kate, Lottie has been signed to Storm Models and, like Kate, at only 5’5” she is unconventionally short for a model. The blonde sisters both have elfin features and a heart shaped face, and last year Lottie followed in Kate’s footsteps by starring in a Calvin Klein campaign. In January little Mossy landed her first major deal and was signed as the face of handbag brand Botkier New York, asserting her status as a rising star. She has starred in shoots for Teen Vogue and Dazed (Kate’s baby daddy’s mag), but has only very recently bagged her first cover, for the March issue of L’Officiel Netherlands. Seemingly determined to step out from her sister’s shadow, Lottie told the magazine that it’s now ‘my turn to tell my own story’.

3. Kylie Jenner
Age: 18
Insta Followers: 55m (FYI that’s 3mil MORE than Kendall, #justsayin)


Ok, so whilst you’d have to literally have been living under a rock not to have heard of the littlest ‘Kardashian’ sister, Kylie is only very recently emerging as a fashion force to be reckoned with. Prior to 2016, big sister Kendall’s stratospheric rise to model-of-the-moment eclipsed anything Kylie could have achieved, despite the fact that she did model for both Yeezy Season 1 & 2. Her first high fashion moment was shared with her pro big sister, as the Jenners both starred in the Balmain campaign for Fall 2015 (as did the Hadids and Joan Smalls and her little sister). However, despite sharing a number of fashion lines with big sis Kendall, Kylie’s focusing on going solo this year, and has so far graced covers from Elle (February issue) to Wonderland (Spring issue). Beyond magazines, and the fact that she made Time’s Most Influential Teens of 2015 list, Kylie’s big fashion coup has to be her deal with Puma, who have taken her on as both a model and a ‘brand advocate’. Oh, and in case all of this still doesn’t have you convinced, I’ll just leave you with the fact that Kylie’s app is the most popular of all the Kardashians. And yes, that includes Kim’s.

4. Imogen Waterhouse
Age: 20
Insta followers: 73k

Imogen (or Immy to her social media following) Waterhouse is the younger sister of Brit supermodel Suki Waterhouse (most famous for her Burberry campaigns and for an ill-fated romance with Bradley Cooper). Whilst Suki’s look is very much ‘old school glamour’, Imogen has more of a golden Californian girl vibe, as her recent Hilfiger Denim campaign with Hayley Baldwin showcases so wonderfully. Imogen is hot on the heels of her older sister, having recently posed for Urban Outfitters and Coast, and is even starring in a video campaign for Emporio Armani shot by Rankin. This new-found status as one of fashion’s darlings du jour was further cemented last month during London Fashion Week, as Imogen sat on the frow nestled between her sister and industry favourite Olivia Palermo. Immy might be fairly new to the scene, but she’s been welcomed with open arms. L’Officiel Netherlands calls her the ‘Br(it) girl’, and she is also the cover star of the March issue of Tatler, with the headline “fashion falls in love with Imogen Waterhouse”. Place your bets ASAP, as the Waterhouse sisters are sure to bag a huge ‘double trouble’ style ad campaign imminently.

*Incidentally, three of the four sisters (Kylie, Bella, Lottie) featured here recently appeared together in a Vogue video, which only confirms my assertion that this year will 100% prove to be the year of the mini-me! (See featured image at the top!)

 

FENTY x PUMA: Rude Gyal Grunge

Six days ago, during the craziness of New York Fashion Week, Rihanna debuted her first full winter/fall collection for Puma since signing as creative director of the brand in 2014. This follows on from her first hugely successful venture with Puma, the creeper shoe, which sold out swiftly in September 2015. I for one was desperate to get my hands on a pair, but one missed alarm later and my chance was up in smoke. I was seriously excited to see what was going to be on offer this time, and luckily the original bad gal’s urban-goth game is as strong as ever.

The showcase most certainly did not disappoint, but it also did not particularly shock, as the collection literally screamed ‘Rihanna’. Firstly, there was A LOT of black. Pretty much all of the looks were monochrome and the models were transformed into black lipped, icy haired sports-chic queens.

Speaking of the models, the line up included the most Instagram-able models of the models-stella-maxwell-l-and-bella-hadid-pose-backstage-at-the-fenty-puma-by-rihanna-aw16-collectionmoment, from Gigi and Bella Hadid to Stella Maxwell and Ruth Bell of Ruth and May. Bella Hadid wore one of my favourite looks, the lace up, skin tight flared body suit that somehow looks sleek and sexy whilst at the same time seriously sporty. It’s this mixing of very different looks that set the tone for the whole collection; the grungy-sporty-street wear vibe was offset by sheer fabrics, lace and a lot of bare skin. Rihanna herself said of the collection, that ‘if the Addams Family went to the gym, this is what they would wear’ and this melding of Rihanna’s signature urban- gothic style is evident in all aspects of design.

The collection featured both women’s and men’s wear, but a key aspect of the line as a whole is androgyny. Many of the pieces are unisex and clearly defy any binary notion of gendered fashion. This ambiguity can be felt in the very cut of the clothes, Rihanna has played around with a variety of shapes, sizes and silhouettes in a striking way. The juxtaposition of massively baggy, oversize clothing and then the skin tight- a signature RiRi look- was everywhere, from figure hugging dresses to roomy tracksuits.

I love all of the criss- cross and lace- up detailing, which is sexy and suggestive whilst evocative of Puma’s sporty essence. Different sports are alluded to in different looks, one particular favourite of mine looks like it had been designed for the world’s most stylish female boxer. The crop top with the cross over bottom is at the top of my must-have list, it feels very Alexander Wang, the epitome of sporty chic. crop top

Sports might be a defining feature, but the collection has also clearly been inspired by Japan. From sheer dresses featuring Japanese calligraphy (another highlight for me) to tracksuits emblazoned with the Japanese flag, the influence is palpable.

Aside from the clothes, there was of the course shoes. The new Fenty trainer was unveiled and new creepers were added. Many of the models were dressed in a trainer- stiletto hybrid (some in white, some in yellow as below right) that, I have to be honest, is definitely not for me. They feel very tacky, 90’s pop star and look like the type of shoe that will only ever really have novelty value. But hey, maybe that’s the look Rihanna and Puma were going for!  I do however LOVE LOVE LOVE the chunky white platform boots. They looked banging paired with bare legs, both with the oversized jumper mini dress and the longer dresses (as below). I could imagine wearing them in almost any scenario, from work to nightclubs to the shops to festivals,  and to me they perfectly encapsulate the collection’s sexy rude gyal grunge aesthetic.

All in all, it was a pretty great collection, and Rihanna delivered exactly what we would expect her to. Unfortunately the collection won’t be available to the masses via retailers until Feb 2016, so until then we’ll simply have to channel the Fenty x Puma vibes by stomping around to Rihanna’s new album and wearing a lot of black lipstick.