Now Reading: The 2018 Pirelli Calendar Breaks Barriers With All-Black Celebrity Cast


The 2018 Pirelli Calendar Breaks Barriers With All-Black Celebrity Cast

August 1, 20175 min read

The 2018 Pirelli Calendar is changing its latest 12-page spread into an essence of #blackmagic. The calendar, first published in 1983 by a tire company of the same name, is known for their provocative and sensual images of women— most images captured by well-known, prominent photographers.

The 2018 calendar will reimagine the characters from Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Set with an all black-cast, the calendar is breaking cultural barriers and opening their doors to a new level of diversity and black beauty.

“The story of Alice has been told so many times and in so many ways, but always with a white cast,”  says Tim Walker, the photographer for the shoot for Vox Magazine. “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.”

Carroll’s original tale about a young girl falling down a rabbit hole and experiencing otherworldly and quirkish adventures is told by a white cast. In the time of its publication in 1865, diversity and cultural inclusion was limited. Though the tale was typically set to be white, according to Walker, a white cast isn’t required.

The shoot features a stunning cast such as RuPaul (The Red Queen), Lupita Nyong (The Dormouse), Whoopi Goldberg (The Royal Duchess) and rapper Sean Combs (Royal Beheader). In an interview with The New York Times, Combs believes the calendar’s reimagination is an “unapologetic expression of black pride.”

“I moved mountains to be a part of this,” said Combs. “It is a chance to push social consciousness and break down barriers. For so many years, something like this would not have happened in the fashion world, so it feels like being part of history and playing an active role. I want to lead by example.”

The Ghanian-born stylist for the shoot, Edward Enniful, has broken barriers with his newest position as British Vogue’s first male editor of British Vogue since its opening in 1916—not to mention being the first black editor of any edition of Vogue. His inspiration for the shoot comes from an array of contemporary sculptural works of Japanese designers such as Rei Kawakubo and Yohji Yamamoto.  Many of Kawakubo’s designs are voluminous and asymmetrical pieces—some even monochromatic. For Enniful, the shoot is a chance to break old stereotypes and the ignorant mindsets of our generation.

“Inclusivity is more part of the conversation than it has ever been before, but it goes far beyond black and white,” Enninful said. “It is about all creeds, all colors, all sizes and people just living their truths.A lot of this is about digital giving people voices, and a new generation who refuse to compromise and want answers to the questions that matter to them.”

Other celebrities partaking in the creativity are Naomi Campell, Djimon Hounsou and South African born Thando Hopa. Hopa will play the Princess of Hearts, a role specifically designed for her. The albino model and lawyer was granted a leave of absence after serving 4 years as a prosecutor for sexual abuse cases in her native country.

“When I was young, I didn’t have a single role model who looked like me, who could have been a source of inspiration or motivation,” Ms. Hopa said. “I wanted to expand other people’s imaginations by not letting them be restricted to specific stories or narratives. Any girl, whether she is black, white, Asian or Indian, should be able to have a sense that they, too, can be a heroine in their own fairy tale. ”

According to Walker, the calendar isn’t an act of political revolt. The calendar is only available to a few exclusive figures, such as some celebrities, politicians and chief executives. Their goal isn’t to gain a wide spread audience or bring in higher funds. Their efforts seem to be based on a positive and heartwarming want to express the beauty in being black and adding diversity and a new light to the stories f our childhood.

“This is not about trends,” Walker said. “I think we are living in a fantastically exciting time, particularly when a story like that of Alice, that has held so much resonance with people and been told in a certain way for so long, can now be told compellingly in another.”

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Mariah Thomas

Mariah Thomas is an aspiring journalist with a passion for bringing awareness to the cultural and artistic perspectives in our world. Her goal is to use her writing to open the door to honest communication on controversial issues that impact our daily lives.