The 2016 Pirelli calendar represents a distinct departure from past versions that typically display artful nudes of famous models. This year, the Italian tire manufacturer decided to go a different route–one that showcases womankind’s talent instead. To bring this progressive idea to life, world-renowned photographer Annie Leibovitz was asked to capture dignified portraits of these thirteen, talented women: Yoko Ono, Amy Schumer, Serena Williams, Yao Chen (who wrote and posed for the calendar’s foreword), Tavi Gevinson, Ava DuVernay, Fran Leibowitz, Patti Smith, Natalia Vodianova, Shirin Neshat, Agnes Gund, Mellody Hobson, and Kathleen Kennedy.
“When Pirelli approached me, they said they wanted to make a departure from the past. They suggested the idea of photographing distinguished women. After we agreed on that, the goal was to be very straightforward. I wanted the pictures to show the women exactly as they are, with no pretense,” Leibovitz revealed. “I’m a great admirer of comediennes. The Amy Schumer portrait added some fun. It’s as if she didn’t get the memo saying that she could keep her clothes on.”
The photographer adds, “I started to think about the roles that women play, women who have achieved something. I wanted to make a classic set of portraits. I thought that the women should look strong but natural and I decided to keep it a very simple exercise of shooting in the studio. This calendar is so completely different. It is a departure. The idea was not to have any pretense in these pictures and be very straightforward.”
Foreword: Actress Yao Chen, the first Chinese UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador.
January: Russian top model Natalia Vodianova, founder of the charity Naked Heart Russia.
February: Producer Kathleen Kennedy, the Chairperson of Lucasfilm.
March: Art collector and patroness Agnes Gund (with her granddaughter Sadie Rain Hope-Gund), President Emerita of the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
April: Tennis player Serena Williams, number one in the world.
May: Opinion leader, critic, and writer Fran Lebowitz.
June: The President of Ariel Investments, Mellody Hobson, who supports charity projects in Chicago.
July: Film director Ava DuVernay, whose films include Selma, which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture in 2015.
August: Actress and blogger Tavi Gevinson, founder of Style Rookie and online magazine Rookie.
September: Iranian visual artist Shirin Neshat.
October: Artist, musician, and performer Yoko Ono.
November: Singer Patti Smith, a world-renowned rock star.
December: Actress and stand-up comedian Amy Schumer.