For the second year in a row, Pirelli eschewed the usual glamorous look for its 44th annual calendar. Last year, Annie Leibovitz was tasked with taking the project in a new direction—casting inspiring women of all ages, like Yoko Ono, Serena Williams and Patti Smith whom she photographed, fully clothed except for a cheeky Amy Schumer.
This year, Peter Lindbergh became the first photographer to shoot three Pirelli calendars. His 2017 also marks another first for "The Cal", as the images have not been retouched. Lindbergh tapped 14 of his favourite women in Hollywood: Nicole Kidman, Lupita Nyong'o, Uma Thurman, Lea Seydoux, Rooney Mara, Kate Winslet, Robin Wright, Julianne Moore, Alicia Vikander, Charlotte Rampling, Zhang Ziyi, Penelope Cruz, Jessica Chastain and Helen Mirren. Lindbergh also included Anastasia Ignatova, a political theory professor in Moscow, that he met a dinner last year. All the women featured were tasked with sharing their natural beauty for the black and white calendar which he has titled "Emotional".
After talks with Pirelli, Lindbergh, who often speaks out against photographers overuse of retouching, asked to use the calendar to make a statement about beauty today. "Beauty is just commercial interest, as you see in magazines, women are washed out from every experience. That's just the opposite of what I wanted. These are the most talented women that I admire in the entire world. They are emotional and I wanted to show that," Lindbergh said during the official press conference in Paris.
The legendary fashion photographer was joined by three of the calendar subjects, Helen Mirren, Nicole Kidman and Uma Thurman at Hotel Salomon de Rothschild. "It's dangerous, we are used to such spectacular images—amazing locations, incredible lighting, airbrushing—and we're going away from that," Mirren said during the calendar unveiling. "Let's find the amazing in something that is simple, human and real. It's dangerous because our eyes need to become re-educated. We're used to digital-enhanced images, let's go back to the simple truth of humanity."
The new calendar is a call to return to natural beauty—a return to real women. All the subjects featured were photographed between California, New York, London, France and Berlin over two months—there was little make-up, hair styling, and wardrobe. All the women put their trust in Lindbergh, whose career has spanned 40+ years, to bring out their best. "We all have our red carpet face, but to drop that and be comfortable—it takes a great master like Peter to get you to do that," Mirren explained at the press conference. "It's an incredible honour to be included," Uma Thurman added, debuting a new brunette 'do, "I have two daughters, and a son, I think it's equally important for men to see their mother aging and being herself. Human empowerment has been opened up."
During the press conference, the conversation turned to how to help empower girls of today's generation— and how Lindbergh's work challenges the standard of beauty we see in magazines. Lindbergh feels his role is to free women from the idea of eternal youth and perfection. Nicole Kidman spoke of the difficulties in raising young girls, and boys, "The advice my mother gave me was to never let anyone break your spirit. But also the importance of building of confidence— how does somebody view something as a mole hill rather than a mountain? I'm very interested in adversity, and how you survive that. All the women in this calendar, we're women of all different facets. The calendar is physical, so what are you building inside? It's about the journey." Lindbergh and his subjects all hope to spark the cultural conversation on what real beauty looks like. "Look at this Pirelli calendar," Mirren said, "the reality is we live, we love, we continue, that's the role of women. It is very difficult, for young girls nowadays, incredibly challenging. The only way we can help them along the way is to say, life goes on a long time. You will be many things in your lifetime."
Via Harper's Bazaar US