Thank you, Pirelli

pirelliI’ve just finished watching the full “Making of” video for the 2017 Pirelli calendar. The calendar is known for its portrayal of beautiful women, in all stages of undress, in all manner of poses, in all manner of real and unreal environments. It’s a celebration of women as beauty/sex objects, take that as you will.

For the 2017 edition, the company went a different route. Still beautiful women, but not necessarily beautiful in the airbrushed sense, nary a blemish or wrinkle. No, these women are real. And for that I applaud Pirelli and photographer Peter Lindbergh.

You know the women. They are all actresses, including Helen Mirren, Uma Thurman, Kate Winslett, Nicole Kidman – and just in case you’re thinking there’s no colour – Lupita Nyong’o and Zhang Ziyi. If I’ve left out a favourite, I’m sorry.

The photos are gorgeous. The women are beautifully real.

Jessica Chastain

Jessica Chastain

It’s not as if there’s no makeup; the women are not sans fards. You can see in the video there’s a makeup artist, but the touches are so light . . . it’s as if you’re seeing these women as they’d be just kicking around the house.

It reminds me of a series of portraits I saw many decades ago. I was with a group of Canadian portrait and wedding photographers, and we were being shown the work of some photographers visiting from France. Unlike the portraits many of the Canadians (and their U.S. counterparts) were producing at the time – dreamy, soft focus – the French portraits were a little crisper, a little more real. I distinctly remember seeing a vaccination scar on one woman’s upper arm. I don’t know if the Canadian photographers could have sold their clients on such reality, but I know I was captivated by those French portraits.

Just as I have been captured by Lindbergh’s portraits.

Click here to see the video.

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