The 2019 Pirelli calendar stars several of the world’s most famous women including Gigi Hadid, Misty Copeland, Laetitia Casta and Julia Garner with backup from Alexander Wang (with Gigi Hadid), Calvin Royal III (with Misty Copeland), Astrid Eika (with Julia Garner), and Sergei Polunin (with Laetitia Casta) — all lensed by celebrity photographer Albert Watson.
While the Pirelli calendar is more sensual than last year’s by Tim Walker, it is born of the #MeToo movement. The staged scenes of sex and debauchery — best lensed by Terry Richardson’s infamous image of Eniko Mihalik eating a banana — are gone.
Albert Watson, who is known for his cinematic images, chose to "show women who were dreaming of things."
The narratives were shot in Miami and New York and revolve around four glamorous female movie characters imagining their future 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 but bored and melancholy heiress; Casta performs as a bohemian painter; and actor Julia Garner plays a photographer.
"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."
Fashion designer Alexander Wang is featured as Hadid’s confidante. "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."
Speaking of her role in the calendar, ballerina Copeland said it's not enough to show women as strong, empowered characters. The images must be “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."
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 Watson explained.)