The 2016 Pirelli calendar contains no nudes

Chinese actress Yao Chen at the launch of the Pirelli Calendar 2016 in London on Nov 30.
Chinese actress Yao Chen at the launch of the Pirelli Calendar 2016 in London on Nov 30. PHOTO: REUTERS
US magazine editor Tavi Gevinson at the Pirelli Calendar 2016 launch in London on Nov 30.
US magazine editor Tavi Gevinson at the Pirelli Calendar 2016 launch in London on Nov 30.PHOTO: EPA
US photographer Annie Leibovitz at the launch of the Pirelli Calendar 2016 in London on Nov 30.
US photographer Annie Leibovitz at the launch of the Pirelli Calendar 2016 in London on Nov 30.PHOTO: EPA
Pirelli President Marco Tronchetti Provera speaks at the Pirelli 2016 Calendar presentation in London.
Pirelli President Marco Tronchetti Provera speaks at the Pirelli 2016 Calendar presentation in London.PHOTO: EPA

NEW YORK (Bloomberg) - 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. 

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,"  Leibovitz said in a statement about her work for the Italian tyre company.

"For 2016, we did something completely different."

Indeed. This year's offering features 13 women who have created great distinction for themselves in their careers including Yoko Ono, Patti Smith, Fran Lebowitz, Tavi Gevinson and Natalia Vodianova.

Previous years have focused solely on models on actresses -in fact, every major model of the past few decades seems to have made an appearance, including Cindy Crawford, Adriana Lima, Gigi Hadid, Miranda Kerr, Iman, Heidi Klum, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Naomi Campbell, and Kate Moss.

As for actresses, Penelope Cruz, Brittany Murphy, Julianne Moore and Sienna Miller have posed for a string of famous photographers like Leibovitz, Karl Lagerfeld, Herb Ritts and Bruce Weber. 

Of course, "nude" is a relative term when it comes to Pirelli.

Witness Amy Schumer, coffee cup in hand, covered only in sheer panties and heels.

Serena Williams is there topless, too, in black undies.

They both look extremely comfortable as posed-possibly even more comfortable than if they had remained clothed. 

At the launch of the calendar on Monday, Leibovitz explained that none of these photographs had been conceived with the male gaze in mind, reported The Guardian.

Williams's 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."

"I wanted the pictures to show the women exactly as they are, with no pretence," Leibovitz said. "The goal was to be very straightforward."

Talk about a new standard for a pinup.