The Story Behind the Pirelli 2020 Calendar

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The Pirelli calendar has a reputation as being a “glamour” calendar, a reputation that it’s arguably earned over its 50+ year history. It actually started out by using only photographs of fully clothed women, but it increased its focus on glamour photography in the 1980s, a trend which continued into the 2010s.

But times were changing, and Pirelli wanted to change with them. That’s why they started to reduce the focus on nudity while simultaneously embracing diversity when selecting their models.

Pirelli had already released a calendar starring only black models as far back as 1987, and so this wasn’t exactly a new thing for them. Still, with this new direction in mind, Pirelli has been changing things up over the last five years.

The New Pirelli Calendar

Pirelli’s 2016 calendar was all about celebrating women for their accomplishments as opposed to what they look like, featuring models as diverse as Serena Williams, Yoko Ono and Patti Smith. In 2017, they shot their models fully dressed and wearing no makeup, also marking the first calendar in which none of the shots were Photoshopped.

In 2018, Pirelli did a repeat of ’87 by featuring only black models (including RuPaul and Whoopi Goldberg), and in 2019 they went with “Dreaming” as a theme and created a series of photographs that represented the dreams of four women: Astrid Eika, Laetitia Casta, Misty Copeland and Gigi Hadid.

So what does the 2020 edition of the Pirelli calendar have in store for us? Let’s take a look.

Looking for Juliet

In 2020, Pirelli chose “Looking for Juliet” as the theme and accompanied the calendar with a short film. Headed up by Paolo Roversi, the 2020 calendar is inspired by Shakespeare’s iconic tragedy and aims to highlight the fact that there’s a little bit of Juliet in every woman.

Speaking about the calendar, Roversi explained, “I was looking for a pure soul, someone full of innocence that combined strength, beauty, tenderness and courage. I found this in the glimmers of an eye, in the gestures and words of Emma and Yara, Indya and Mia. And in the smiles and tears of Kristen and Claire. In the voice and chants of Chris and Rosalia. And in Stella, the innocence.”

At the calendar’s launch in Verona’s Teatro Filarmonico, former Pirelli model Whoopi Goldberg read some excerpts of the play and talked about her own thoughts and feelings about the calendar.

Reflecting the Romeo and Juliet theme, the photoshoot took place in fair Verona, where the play is set, with additional photography carried out in Roversi’s hometown of Paris. The 2020 calendar clocks in at 132 pages and, as well as the monthly calendar, it also includes sections of the play and colour and black and white photographs of the play’s main characters.

Pirelli have been taking serious steps over the last decade or so, to bring their calendar into the 21st century. They’ve appreciated that there’s a big difference between empowering women and objectifying them, and this year’s calendar is further proof of that.

It’ll be interesting to see the direction that Pirelli takes in 2021 and beyond, but we can safely say that their current direction is here to stay. They appreciate that by being more inclusive and by celebrating women’s achievements instead of objectifying their bodies, they can create a calendar that can be enjoyed by everyone.