Informed netizens will doubtless have seen the indomitable 2016 Pirelli Calendar featuring arresting black and whites of Tavi Gevinson, Yao Chen, Serena Williams, Agnes Gund, Ava Duvernay, Yoko Ono, Natalia Vodianova, Amy Schumer, Mellody Hobson, Fran Lebowitz, Patti Smith, Kathleen Kennedy, Shirin Neshat and Serena Williams.
Captured by prolific photographer Annie Leibovitz, the portraits are a distinct departure from the sexualised, pin-up girls of years past and celebrate female achievement in an array of disciplines including art, sport, music, comedy and philanthropy in an ode to female strength and accomplishment.
What this dynamic shift in the criterium for a Pirelli woman heralds then, is surely a feminist statement that addresses female representation in terms of a diversity in age, body type, race and career; as a trade calendar known for its sexy supermodels and little much else (most notably a fully nude Kate Moss lensed by Mario Sorrenti in the 2012 edition), the Italian tyre company marketing to a purely male demographic and helming the iconic item now symbolises something that points female portrayal in the right direction and signifies a cultural change.
These are women without pretence, fierce women, strong women, powerful women, beautiful women, women who seek to subvert the male gaze - a trope that exists across the art historical canon pandering to the male appetite: it pigeonholes women into objects of desire, painting them as inviting mistresses, wanton savages or divine goddesses in order to fulfil pleasure and fantasy, however the likes of Smith, Chen, Lebowitz, Schumer and Williams are not, and will not be consumed or owned like property; they gaze openly at the viewer - defiant, confronting, challenging and assured in their womanhood.
Pictured: Yao Chen, Amy Schumer, Serena Williams, Patti Smith c/o Pirelli.