Ballerina Misty Copeland defines beauty in Pirelli calendar

James Raia

For decades, the Pirelli calendar, the annual calendar published by the famed tire manufacturer, has featured famous female models scantily dressed, topless or naked. Not this year.

The new Pirelli calendar, which features Misty Copeland, Julia Garner, Gigi Hadid and Laetitia Casta photographed by Albert Watson, highlight the models, actresses and athletes pursuing their dreams.

The 40 prints of the models, shot in New York and Miami, each mounted on black, unfold one by one to tell the stories. On the back, dates are scribbled in white, as if in a diary.

Ballerina Misty Copeland defines beauty in Pirelli calendar 1
 Misty Copeland is among the four models featured in the 2019 Pirelli Calendar.

Copeland, a principal dancer at the American Ballet Theater, plays the role of an aspiring dancer biding her time at a Miami strip club. Hadid is a stylish and melancholy heiress. Casta performs a bohemian painter. Actress Julia Garner plays a photographer. Men appear in supporting roles.

Watson, known for his cinematic gaze, chose instead to “show women who were dreaming of things.”

“The Pirelli calendar was, at the bottom roots, a pinup calendar for mechanics when they changed tires,” said Watson “They held onto the sexy thing for a long period of time, and when it came time for me to do it, (it) seemed wrong to take models to the beach to take their tops off. It seemed out of time with the #MeToo movement.”

Previous editions of the calendar have been spiral-bound. This year’s photos are presented in a black case with bold white type, designed by art director Fabien Baron.

Alexander Wang, the fashion designer who helped pioneer the androgynous model-off-duty look, features as Hadid’s confidante. He said he was eager to participate.

“It’s exciting to be part of a project that everyone knows, flipping it and not making it feel like a pinup calendar,” he said. “This project, a calendar with a remixed concept, was inspiring because it’s a different way of portraying men and women.”

To Copeland, it’s not enough to show women as strong, empowered characters. They real benefits from seeing diverse, multi-dimensional portrayals, capturing a spectrum of experiences.

“To have women that people can relate to, we have to have representation, especially for the youth to be able to dream, for the future to be limitless. This is so much of what I stand for,” Copeland said. “I like to see women depicted as strong, powerful, but also vulnerable. To be successful as a woman you don’t just need to be strong, but also show empathy.”

Article Last Updated: December 13, 2018.

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