Last week, British Vogue’s new editor-in-chief, Edward Enninful, launched his first issue in superb fashion by embracing the new era of diversity for the magazine. And he aptly followed that up with the 2018 Pirelli Calendar, which he styled, and cast with an all-black group of models, activists and actors.
What’s the Pirelli Calendar you ask? Here’s a quick history…
The Pirelli calendar was created by the Italian tyre company in the ‘60s as a trade gift to their customers, with a focus on somewhat suggestive imagery of women. In the late 80’s, famed fashion photographer Terence Donovan was hired to photograph a then 17-year-old Naomi Campbell.
Despite its questionable beginnings, the calendar has been heralded as a grow-house for photographic talent. Some famous photographers to have shot the calendar are Bert Stern (1986), Peter Lindbergh (1996, 2002, 2014, 2017), Annie Leibowitz (2000, 2016), Terry Richardson (2010), Helmut Newton (2014), Steven Meisel (2015) and Tim Walker (2018).
The annual publication of the calendar has become something of an unlikely fixture on the fashion calendar over the years because it attracts big-name models and celebrities, who are usually second billing to the photographers. The likes of Naomi Campbell (featured first in 1987), Helena Christensen, Cindy Crawford, Gigi Hadid, Penélope Cruz, Hilary Swank, Naomi Watts, Yoko Ono, Serena Williams, Amy Schumer, and Kate Moss have all graced the calendar.
Often based on themes chosen by the photographer, this years photographer Tim Walker decided to retell the story of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, with an all black cast drawn from the worlds of music, fashion, activism, and beyond.
A frequent collaborator of Enninful (from his previous position as W fashion editor), Tim Walker explained that his choice to photograph an all-black cast was part of larger conversation of the current state of the world, “it’s difficult to be entirely clear, but fashion reflects the spirit of the times. The fashion industry is a wonderland, and it’s an immensely positive thing to see a black Alice … Alice is universal.”
This year’s cast is full of heavy hitters: two Oscar winners Lupita Nyong’o and Whoopi Goldberg, Naomi Campbell, British Vogue cover star Adwoa Aboah, Sudanese-Australian model Duckie Thot, Djimon Hounsou, South African lawyer Thando Hopa, Jaha Dukureh, the Gambian-born anti-FGM campaigner, Lil Yatchy, Puff Daddy (or Diddy or Brother Love… I don’t know anymore) and RuPaul, who were transformed by Enninful into characters from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
This could be read as a statement of intent by Enninful, as he seeks to lay out his vision for Vogue’s approach to diversity.
Adut Akech: The Queen of Diamonds
Adwoa Aboah: Tweedledee
Alpha Dia: 5 of Hearts playing card and Gardener
Djimon Hounsou: The King of Hearts
Duckie Thot: Alice
King Owusu: Tweedledum, 2 of Hearts playing card and Gardener
Lil Yachty: The Queen’s Guard
Lupita Nyong’o: The dormouse
Naomi Campbell: The Royal Beheader
RuPaul: The Queen of Hearts
Sasha Lane: The Mad March Hare
Sean “Diddy” Combs: The Royal Beheader
Slick Woods: The Mad Hatter
Thank Hopa: The Princess of Hearts
Whoopi Goldberg: The Royal Duchess
Wilson Oryema: 7 of Hearts Playing Card and gardener
Zoe Bedeaux: The Caterpillar
Jaha Dukureh: Wonderland Princess