The 2018 Pirelli Calendar was just unveiled, and it features 28 dream-like images, on 20 different custom-designed sets, all inspired by the reveries in Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and all performed by an all-Black cast of actors, models, activists, and musicians.
Off and on since 1963, the famed Italian tire-maker (there’s a phrase you’ve probably never heard before) has released an annual limited edition calendar as an insider gift for suppliers, celebrities, and other notables—it is not sold to the public. For decades, the artistic objet was an alleged ode to female beauty, featuring naked or near naked women photographed by male photographers like Terry Richardson, Helmut Newton, Richard Avedon, and Arthur Elgort.
But everyone has since tired of that exploitative practice, so in the past few years the brand has re-engineered the concept. In 2016, Pirelli hired Annie Leibovitz to photograph “powerful women” like Serena Williams, Yoko Ono, and Patti Smith, mostly clothed. Last year, Peter Lindbergh shot a range of famous actresses, also clothed, including Charlotte Rampling, Juilanne Moore, Helen Mirren, and Robin Wright.
This year, the photographer is the famed Brit Tim Walker, known for his work in Vogue and W, and features the cast posed in Wonderland-ous tableaux. Fashion models are in the majority, with Duckie Thot as Alice, Adut Akech as the Queen of Diamonds, Adwoa Aboah as Tweedledee, Slick Woods as The Mad Hatter, and Thando Hopa as The Princess of Hearts.
But musicians are also prominently featured. Lil Yachty shows up as The Queen’s Guard. Sean “Diddy” Combs makes an appearance as The Royal Beheader. 90s British trip-hopper (and famed stylist) Zoe Bedeaux levitates (with a hookah) as The Caterpillar. And, gloriously bedecked in a red Comes Des Garcons gown, RuPaul Charles performs as The Queen of Hearts.
The calendar will be feted with a black tie gala in Manhattan (Friday, November 10) with many of the stars slated to attend.