The Classics: The Famed Pirelli Calendar

Pirelli printed their first calendar in 1964 as a corporate freebie for clients of the Italian tire manufacturer.  This calendar would go onto become perhaps the most famous marketing material of modern times. For decades, the Pirelli calendar has featured photos taken of famous models by famous photographers.  Only a select few will ever see the actual calendar themselves, as this extraordinarily exclusive perk is never for sale.

Photographers and Muses

Some of the top names in fashion and fashion photography have been associated with the Pirelli calendar.  Karl Lagerfeld, Annie Leibovitz, and Terry Richardson are just some of the renown photogs who have shot photos for “The Cal.”  Captured within those photos are high fashion models, famous actresses, and popular musicians.




While many of the past calendars feature scantily clad women in exotic locales, more recently the calendar has pivoted to highlight the strength and character of the models photographed. Annie Leibovitz chose models like Serena Williams, Ava DuVernay, Agnes Gund, and other woman who achieved important milestones in professional, social, cultural, sporting and artistic life.  In 2017, German photographer Peter Lindburgh features “strong, but natural” women in black and white photos that are not touched by make-up or with Photoshop.

The 2018 Calendar Theme

In a departure from the straightforward style of the 2017 calendar, Tim Walker chose a surreal “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” theme for the 2018 Pirelli calendar.  This calendar will feature only black models cast as characters from the Lewis Carroll novel. By reimagining the classic tale with an all black ensemble, Walker hopes to draw attention to the need for inclusivity in the beauty world.


There has never been a black Alice, so I wanted to push how fictional fantasy figures can be represented and explore evolving ideas of beauty.


The 2018 Calendar Models

According to CNN, the 2018 Pirelli calendar will feature:

  • Adut Akech, Sudanese-Australian model as The Queen of Diamonds
  • Adwoa Aboah , Ghanaian-British fashion model and feminist activist as Tweedledee
  • Alpha Dia, Senegalese-German model as the 5 of Hearts Playing Card Gardner
  • Djimon Hounsou, Beninese-American actor and model, as The King of Hearts
  • Duckie Thot, South Sudanese-Australian model, as Alice
  • King Owusu, British model, as Tweedledum, 2 of Hearts Playing Card Gardner
  • Lil Yachty, American rapper and singer, as The Queen’s Guard
  • Lupita Nyong’o, Mexican-Kenyan actress, as The Dormouse
  • Naomi Campbell, British supermodel and actress, The Royal Beheader
  • RuPaul, American actor, drag queen, television personality, and singer/songwriter as The Queen of Hearts
  • Sasha Lane, American actress, as The Mad March Hare
  • Sean “Diddy” Combs, American rapper, singer, songwriter, actor, record producer and entrepreneur as The Royal Beheader
  • Slick Woods, American model, as The Mad Hatter
  • Thando Hopa, South African model and lawyer, as The Princess of Hearts
  • Wilson Oryema, British model, as 7 of Hearts Playing Card Gardner
  • Whoopi Goldberg, American actress, comedian, author and television host, activist, as The Royal Duchess
  • Zoe Bedeaux, British fashion stylist, designer and singer, as The Caterpillar

We cannot wait for the release of the 2018 calendar photos!  Have you ever seen an actual Pirelli calendar?  Let us know in the comments below!

Suggested For You

The Classics: The Famed Pirelli Calendar