Pirelli calendar 2019: Cinematic femininity in the age of #MeToo

Updated 5th December 2018
Credit: Courtesy Pirelli
Pirelli calendar 2019: Cinematic femininity in the age of #MeToo
Written by Shirine Saad, CNN
The new Pirelli calendar, starring the likes of Misty Copeland and Gigi Hadid, imagines some of today's most famous women as ambitious artists pursing their dreams, as seen through the lens of seasoned celebrity photographer Albert Watson.
Where past photographers have staged scenes of sex and debauchery, Watson, who is known for his cinematic gaze, chose instead to "show women who were dreaming of things."
"The Pirelli calendar was, at the bottom roots, a pinup calendar for mechanics when they changed tires," Watson said at his vast Manhattan studio last month.
"They held onto the sexy thing for a long period of time, and when it came time for me to do it, (it) seemed wrong to take models to the beach to take their tops off. It seemed out of time with the #MeToo movement."
While previous editions of the calendar have been spiral-bound, this year's photos are presented in a black case with bold white type, designed by art director Fabien Baron. The 40 vivid prints, each mounted on black, unfold one by one to tell the stories. On the back, dates are scribbled in white, as if in a diary. ("The picture has to have weight and soul and power," the Scottish photographer explained.)
Sergei Polunin: Life in ink
The narratives, shot in Miami and New York, revolve around four glamorous female movie characters on their journey to success. Copeland, a principal dancer at the American Ballet Theater, plays the role of an aspiring dancer biding her time at a Miami strip club; Hadid is a stylish and melancholy heiress; Casta performs a bohemian painter; and actress Julia Garner plays a photographer. Men appear in supporting roles.
Alexander Wang, the fashion designer who helped pioneer the androgynous model-off-duty look, features as Hadid's confidante. He said he was eager to participate.
"It's exciting to be part of a project that everyone knows, flipping it and not making it feel like a pinup calendar," he said. "This project, a calendar with a remixed concept, was inspiring because it's a different way of portraying men and women."
 Laetitia Casta plays a painter who lives with her dancer boyfriend, played by Sergei Polunin.
Laetitia Casta plays a painter who lives with her dancer boyfriend, played by Sergei Polunin. Credit: Courtesy Pirelli
To Copeland, it's not enough to show women as strong, empowered characters. They real benefits from seeing diverse, multi-dimensional portrayals, capturing a spectrum of experiences.
"To have women that people can relate to, we have to have representation, especially for the youth to be able to dream, for the future to be limitless. This is so much of what I stand for," Copeland said. "I like to see women depicted as strong, powerful, but also vulnerable. To be successful as a woman you don't just need to be strong, but also show empathy."