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Pirelli 2013 is totally PC

Pirelli 2013 is totally PC

When Karl Lagerfeld shot the Pirelli calendar in 2011, I was romantically involved with a fashion obsessed Frenchman, and he was distraught. The calendar contained, to his shock and horror, men. “Pirelli calendar with a naked man inside???? what do you honestly think of that?  I'm outraged.” He opined over Facebook.

His biggest problem was not their presence per-se, but the way they were shot exactly the same way as the women. “ I mean can you imagine Antonio the Italian mechanic who has spent the last two years hoping to masturbate on the breasts of Lara Stone, get his calendar and suddenly wonder if it's not a bad joke.”

Sorrenti’s naturalistic efforts the next year sat much better with him (and with me, they’re just straight out nice photographs sans the Kaiser's draconian retouching), but the 2013 calendar shot in Brazil and launched in saucy city Rio De Janeiro last night, is perhaps the most shocking iteration to date.

The calendar was shot by Steve McCurry, the man behind arguably the most iconic female portrait of the late 20th century, the piercing eyed Afghan Girl. Just as she was covered-up and striking, so are  McCurry’s Pirelli girls. Chosen not just for their looks, but for their social consciences, the calendar includes Brazilian supers Isabeli Fontana and a very pregnant Adriana Lima alongside Liya Kebede, Karlie Kloss, Sonia Braga, Hanaa Ben Abdesslem and many more.

McCurry’s choice to shoot his subjects clad came from a desire to showcase them not as sex objects, but as people. The head honchos at Pirelli are fine with McCurry’s decision, as the point of the calendar is to give direction over entirely to the photographer who is creating it, but they also warn that this doesn’t necessarily mark a new era for the girly-shoot icon.

The point of the calendar was always pin-ups, and in that way Lagerfeld was making a subversive decision by suggesting that maybe Antonio might swing Jake Davies' way. What McCurry seems to be suggesting is that maybe Antonio should be pulling his mind out of his pants entirely, or perhaps inserting more of it down there.

There’s no doubt McCurry’s shots, while the models are clad, are still sensual, so his point that the women are whole thanks to their clothing is a curious one. Thanks to Lima’s parted lips and flimsy top her image is still sexual, except now she is being sexualised not just for her looks but for her work with the Ways of Light orphanage.

This is perhaps, a move towards a more equal model of desire. Men’s attractiveness has always been linked not just to how they look, but what they do. In keeping his subjects dressed, McCurry is reminding his audience that these women do engage in activities that require clothes, and that these actions are as attractive as their natural assets.

What remains to be seen is whether Antonio will see it that way.