The Pirelli Calendar, which is to fashion types what the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition is to normal dudes, is bravely going where the Pirelli Calendar has never gone before: it will include a plus-size model.
This year’s calendar is shot by Steven Meisel (readers of a certain age, or readers who are nostalgic for the ’90s, likely know him as the photographer of Madonna’s Sex book from 1992) and styled by Carine Roitfeld, former editor-in-chief of Vogue Paris. The theme of the calendar: fetishism. Leather, latex, bustiers, the whole dominatrix thing. It’s all very 50 Shades.
Candice Huffine is making her Pirelli debut, and much ado is made of her inclusion because of Huffine’s size. For the first time in its 50-year history, the Pirelli calendar will include one “curvy” woman. (Other models in this year’s lineup include: Joan Smalls, Sasha Luss, Karen Elson, Adriana Lima, Natalia Vodianova and Raquel Zimmermann.)
In an interview with British Vogue, Huffine said “‘My presence on this set – the most glamorous in the world – is a sign that things are really changing.” The 29-year-old has been modeling for 15 years.
The Pirelli Calendar occupies a strange space in fashionland. From outside the industry, it is easy to see the enterprise as totally dated in every way. It makes a big deal out of naked (or nearly-naked) photos of very famous women who are photographed in the nude or thereabouts all the time. The whole notion of a print calendar, the big poster-style kind a person used to hang up in a dorm or at a desk, is also oh so retro. And there’s the fact that no mere mortal can even buy a copy of the calendar, as it is a corporate gift that only a select number of secret VIPs get to receive. This is theoretically a big part of the calendar’s allure, even though revealing photos of all of these models are readily available to anyone with internet access or a shopping mall nearby
And yet, perhaps because of its age, the talent it attracts, or the Emperor’s New Clothes-y laws that, to some extent, govern all artistic industries, the Pirelli Calendar is essentially beyond reproach. The style-centric media is supposed to get excited about it every year, even though the buzzed-about calendar is something most readers will never see. The photos are described in that breathless tone usually reserved for bold and edgy artistic endeavors, even though the portrayal of the naked female form as art is the opposite of a new and daring practice. The Pirelli Calendar is almost like the highbrow version of the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, a kind of intermission from usual social mores because the rules are different for fashion. It’s no surprise, then, that The Cal has displayed many an Angel in its pages.
But fashion, as far as things like beauty standards and body types and ethnic diversity and so on go, has always been behind the curve of what actual humans find attractive. That’s okay; you do you, fashion industry. But I don’t really think we need to sit around congratulating this team behind The Cal (their nickname, not mine) for coming to the realization, just in time for the 2015 edition, that women who are professionally gorgeous are, in fact, gorgeous. I find it especially hilarious that the Pirelli people are hyping the inclusion of a model with curves at this particular moment in time, when many of our most popular celebrities claim their hotness crowns because, not in spite of, their curvaceous figures.
CREDIT: Jeff Daly/Invision for Parkwood Entertainment/AP Images
So if we were to arbitrarily date modern widespread worship of famously curvy bodies to, say, the release of “Bootylicious,” that would put the Pirelli Calendar about 13 years behind popular tastes. (And that’s just this latest wave of appreciation; obviously, hourglass figures have been celebrated as sexy for a long, long time.) Then again, we are talking about a business that is still struggling with the very basic concept of child labor law. I don’t really know that anyone is looking to these folks to be bastions of morality and good judgment. Personally I do not use Pirelli calendar for guidance re: who is and is not desirable. But I’m just your friendly neighborhood Culture Editor.
In other important calendar news, the FDNY charity calendar will include a female firefighter for the first time this year. Danae Mines is one of only about 40 female firefighters in the entire New York Fire Department (total number of firefighters: over 10,000). She is a badass. And hers is a calendar you can actually buy; proceeds go to the FDNY Foundation.