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Charting the evolution of the Pirelli calendar

As Pirelli reveals its Romeo and Juliet themed 2020 calendar, BURO. discovers how it’s evolved into an emblem of boundary-pushing art


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For those that aren’t car connoisseurs, Pirelli is an Italian tyre company. Since 1964, it has produced an annual calendar – or ‘The Cal’, as it's colloquially known - which according to Mario Testino is “the most prestigious calendar in the world.”

Starting out as a freebie gifted to its most loyal clients, it quickly became an exclusive work of art that stood for luxury, style and “original ideas”. As you’d expect from a calendar created by a tyre manufacturer, it was once filled with nude women in suggestive positions that only my yoga instructor can accomplish, but today it stands reflective of current times. Or, to put it another way, it got woke.

“the most prestigious calendar in the world.”

Mario Testino

The tide started to turn in 2016, when Pirelli commissioned Annie Leibovitz to give the calendar a much-needed feminist overhaul, celebrating women for their accomplishments. Diversifying the line up to include women of different ethnicities, ages and vocations outside of modelling, including Serena Williams and Yoko Ono to Patti Smith and Amy Schumer (semi-nude, sipping on a takeout coffee. The dream).

The following year was shot by Peter Lindbergh, and featured actresses Julianne Moore, Helen Mirren and Nicole Kidman fully clothed and wearing no makeup, making it the first time The Cal was released with untouched photographs. Tim Walker’s Alice in Wonderland-style calendar in 2018 was equally iconic, featuring an all-black cast that included Slick Woods as the Mad Hatter, Naomi Campbell as a royal beheader and RuPaul as the 'Queen of Hearts.'


To kickstart the calendar for the next decade, photographer Paolo Roversi serves up a ‘Looking for Juliet’ theme, which portrays nine different versions of Shakespeare’s heroine. Move over please Claire Danes. The likes of Kristen Stewart, Emma Watson, Claire Foy, Indya Moore and Rosalía, Roversi tap into the “Juliet that exists in every woman.”

Thankfully, Pirelli isn’t presenting the conventional stereotype of what you’d expect a tyre manufacture to offer, but instead are pushing boundaries of representation within an industry that’s usually dominated by masculinity. So, stick that on your wall and smoke it.

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