Not the Usual Suspects: Amy Schumer and Serena Williams Pose Topless for the 2016 Pirelli Calendar

Pirelli is doing things a little differently this year. The Pirelli Calendar is known for teaming up with esteemed photographers, shooting models pin-up style and distributing the resulting calendar to a group of 20,000 ‘VIPs,’ including royalty, politicians and entertainers. This year, the concept has changed: rather than displaying nude models, the calendar is featuring a variety of accomplished women who work across a vast range of fields.


The line-up includes Serena Williams, Amy Schumer, Yoko Ono, Tavi Gevinson, Ava DuVernay, Yao Chen, Mellody Hobson, Shirin Neshat, Agnes Gund, Kathleen Kennedy, Fran Lebowitz and Natalia Vodianova.


Okay, so appreciating women from all walks of life is nothing new. Feminism is nothing new. Heroic, accomplished, inspiring women are definitely nothing new. One might think from the widespread media reaction to the 2016 Pirelli calendar that its concept is groundbreaking, but anyone in tune with reality can see that Pirelli is a little bit late to the party. If there’s a ‘cultural shift’ happening, as the New York Times put it, it’s thanks to the kids marching on the streets for their rights and not thanks to a multi-national company that has only just hopped on board. And I couldn’t help but cringe a little bit at Kathleen Kennedy in Pirelli’s behind-the-scenes video proudly proclaiming, “This is taking a look at real women.” Yes, these women are real. Thank you. We know.


Nevertheless, it’s good to see these women being celebrated in a calendar with such a long history of high-end production and influential partners. And late is better than never. With famous photographer Annie Leibovitz in command of the shoot and charismatic powerhouses like Amy Schumer and Serena Williams getting involved, it’d be hard not to get at least a bit enthusiastic about it.


While most of the women remained clothed for the shoot, Amy Schumer and Serena Williams boldly went topless. In Schumer’s portrait she appears beautiful yet casual, as if she’s just glancing up from her morning coffee to say, ‘oh! Hello there.’


And Serena appears both strong and glamorous, her athletic physique standing out starkly against the bare background.


Leibovitz said about the shoot:

“This calendar is so completely different. The idea was not to have any pretense in these images and be very straightforward.”


Schumer described her experience while taking part in the project:

“I felt like I looked more beautiful than I’ve ever felt in my life, and I felt like it looked like me.”