No nudes in Liebovitz's second Pirelli calendar

Chinese actress Yao Chen (above) and Annie Liebovitz.
Chinese actress Yao Chen (above) and Annie Liebovitz.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY
US writer, magazine editor, actress and singer Tavi Gevinson was photographed for the calendar.
US writer, magazine editor, actress and singer Tavi Gevinson was photographed for the calendar.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY
Chinese actress Yao Chen and Annie Liebovitz (above).
Chinese actress Yao Chen and Annie Liebovitz (above).PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON• Here is irony for you: When celebrity photographer Annie Liebovitz shot the 2000 edition of Pirelli's erotic calendar, it was the first time she had ever shot nudes professionally.

Now, 15 years later, her second shoot for Pirelli contains no nudes at all. The funny thing is, the 66-year-old American photographer seemed to think the nude session was easier.

"The 2000 Calendar was an exercise in photographing nudes - it was a simple concept," she said in a statement about her work for the Italian tyre company.

"For 2016, we did something completely different."

This year, in the place of the artfully lit supermodels, there are simple portraits of women of various sizes, ages and ethnicities chosen for their distinction in their careers.

Subjects include Yoko Ono, wearing a top hat, tuxedo jacket and fishnet tights; Patti Smith, modelling jeans, boots and a snarl. Chinese actress Yao Chen, blogger Tavi Gevinson, artist Shirin Neshat, investment banker Mellody Hobson, director Ava DuVernay and art collector Agnes Gund also appear.

Tennis star Serena Williams is one of just two scantily clad stars, posing in a balletic lunge with her muscular, naked back to the camera. Comedian Amy Schumer sips from a coffee cup in her underwear, with soft rolls of flesh visible on her stomach.

At the launch of the calendar in the grand ballroom of the Grosvenor House on Monday, Leibovitz explained that none of these photographs had been conceived with the male gaze in mind.

Williams' photo was "not a nude but a body study", she said, while Schumer's was a comic conceit: "The idea was that she was the only one who had not got the memo about wearing clothes."

During 50-odd years of production, Pirelli has worked hard to cultivate a sense of artiness and exclusivity around the calendar. In its hardcopy form, the calendar is sent out to only a select and secret few, although the images circulate widely on the Internet.

They are given a veneer of respectability, thanks to the inclusion of the world's top supermodels and actors - such as Kate Moss, Gisele Bundchen and Julianne Moore - who are photographed by illustrious names including Herb Ritts, Richard Avedon and Helmut Newton.

Cultural commentator Fran Lebowitz, who appears in the calendar in a man's oversized pin-striped jacket, offered an analysis during a behind-the-scenes film shown at the launch: "Perhaps clothed women are going to have a moment."

BLOOMBERG, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 02, 2015, with the headline 'No nudes in Liebovitz's second Pirelli calendar'. Print Edition | Subscribe