Nude While Being Fully Dressed: Pirelli Calendar 2017

Uma Thurman

Next year’s calendar was unveiled in Paris and features an older cast, including Helen Mirren and Charlotte Rampling, and – in a twist – very little nudity

Time was, the celebrated Pirelli calendar featured “tasteful” photographs of naked or scantily clad young women shot in exotic locations; but times are changing.

The 2017 calendar, titled Emotional, unveiled in Paris on Tuesday, featuring Dame Helen Mirren in a blanket, Kate Winslet’s hands and Uma Thurman in a roll-neck sweater. Speaking at the launch, photographer Peter Lindbergh said the women he had pictured were “nude while being fully dressed” because the camera had “stripped them to the very soul”.

Lindbergh, who previously shot the calendar in 1996 and 2002, said it was “a cry for beauty today against the terror of perfection and youth”, aiming to show “real women” as they are naturally without heavy makeup or retouching. “It’s another kind of naked, more important than body parts. What is more than being naked is to show yourself the way you are.”

 Julianne Moore, Pirelli 2017 by Peter Lindbergh Photograph: Peter Lindbergh/Pirelli calendar
Julianne Moore, Pirelli 2017 by Peter Lindbergh Photograph: Peter Lindbergh/Pirelli calendar
Left to right: photographer Peter Lindbergh, Nicole Kidman, Uma Thurman and Helen Mirren and CEO of the Pirelli Group Marco Tronchetti Provera at the Paris launch. Photograph: Reuters/Charles Platiau
Left to right: photographer Peter Lindbergh, Nicole Kidman, Uma Thurman and Helen Mirren and CEO of the Pirelli Group Marco Tronchetti Provera at the Paris launch. Photograph: Reuters/Charles Platiau

The previous Pirelli calendar, photographed by Annie Leibovitz, abandoned the traditional nude supermodel, in favour of images of strong women who have “achieved something”, entirely shot in a studio.
The 2017 calendar, which is the 44th edition, is made up of 40 images, most of them black-and-white portraits taken in five different locations: Los Angeles, Berlin, London, New York and Le Touquet beach in France.
It features 14 actors from four continents, whose ages range from 28 to 71, including Mirren, 71, Juliannne Moore, 55, Robin Wright, 50, Charlotte Rampling, 70, Léa Seydoux, 31, Lupita Nyong’o, Alicia Vikander, 28, and Zhang Ziyi, 37. Lindbergh said they were “the most talented women in the whole world”. The only relatively unknown model is Anastasia Ignatova, a lecturer at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations.

At Tuesday’s launch, attended by Mirren, Thurman and Kidman, Lindbergh said: “As an artist, I feel I’m responsible for freeing women from the idea of eternal youth and perfection.”

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Nicole Kidman, Pirelli 2017 by Peter Lindbergh Photograph: Peter Lindbergh/Pirelli calendar

Mirren said the calendar marked a “cultural shift…but not the end of the journey”.
“It’s a big change. It’s very, very difficult for young girls nowadays, and incredibly challenging. The only way we can help them along the way is to say that life goes on a long time and it’s wonderful that it does. You will do many things in that time.”

Thurman praised the photographer for “working to free women from the present false standards”. Asked what message she would send to today’s young girls, Thurman replied: “My mother used to say, beauty is what beauty does. Accepting yourself as you are, is probably the first step.”

Kidman, who admitted her husband Keith Urban prefers her without make-up, added: “My mother’s advice was don’t let anyone break your spirit”. The actor, who has two daughters, said young girls were still often judged physically, but the most important thing to ask was: “What are you building inside…that’s the big question and it’s the journey we are all on”.

 Robin Wright, Pirelli 2017 by Peter Lindbergh Photograph: Peter Lindbergh/Pirelli calendar
Robin Wright, Pirelli 2017 by Peter Lindbergh Photograph: Peter Lindbergh/Pirelli calendar

In a film on the making of the calendar, Moore described how she arrived for the shoot. “I had no makeup on, messy hair and puffy just-awake eyes but [Lindbergh] said, ‘No, no, no. You are perfect.’”
Winslet said she had specifically asked for the back of her hands to be photographed because she had seen the change in them as she aged and she “loved them”. The closeup is a whole page of the calendar. “People are constantly trying to make us look a softer version of 40, or a more youthful, fresher version of 50. Isn’t it OK to just be 40 or 50 or 60?”

Since 1964, some of the world’s most celebrated photographers have shot the calendar – including Terry Richardson, Bruce Weber and Mario Sorrenti and it has featured some of the biggest names in fashion, modelling and entertainment. Only about 2,000 copies of the Pirelli calendar, produced by the Italian tyre company, have been printed and are strictly reserved for the company’s key clients and VIPs.

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Report by Kim Willsher for The Guardian
Photos by Peter Lindbergh/Pirelli calendar