The Pirelli Calendar, the high-end dates-and-babes annual that's only available to a secret society of movers and shakers, continued its epic legacy of style and imagery with the unveiling of its 40th edition at a soiree in Rio de Janeiro (naturally).
The 2013 edition, when it was first shown to a hotel banquet hall full of international press and VIPs, shocked, but not for reasons one would expect. Instead of NSFW images like 2010's calendar shot by Terry Richardson, also in Brazil, Pirelli infused social and humanitarian issues into the theme for 2013.
Photography legend Steve McCurry, whose famous 1985 National Geographic cover image of Sharbat Gula, the young Afghan girl refugee, helped engineer the Pirelli project to fit his unique outlook. McCurry specifically asked for models directly involved with charitable causes and organizations and, likely to disappoint some calendar fans, wanted them clothed.
No better example of Pirelli and McCurry's vision is Summer Rayne Oakes, a statuesque and confident author, entrepreneur, public speaker, videographer and eco-activist who studied environmental science and entomology (yum, insects!) before trying out modeling. Of course, you wouldn't know any of this just by looking at her.
“Most of my work, really to date, has really been through starting businesses that are just more socially responsible,” Oakes explains. One company she joined forces with eight years ago is the Mezimbite Forest Centre, a sustainable development and design brand focused on people whose lives and livelihoods depend on the forest, especially after war or upheaval.
For supermodel Petra Nemcova, charity also comes first. After barely surviving the 2004 Asian tsunami, she looked at life and her role differently, replacing a workaholic modeling career with what she says is two-thirds of her time going to her non-profit.
Nemcova describes Happy Hearts Fund’s mission as, “filling a gap which happens when first responders are leaving and communities and children are forgotten,” by building schools in post-disaster communities like Haiti. “The ripple effect of schools goes to children, families, communities and future generations,” she adds.
In many ways, the 2013 Pirelli Calendar is a sign of our more social consumerism. Nothing wrong with topless supermodels — really, nothing -- but the tire maker's layer of consciousness in godess-like packaging should win new fans. Nemcova, Oakes and the others I spoke to, were both disarming and inspiring, dispelling any notions I had about pin-up doll activism or forced goodwill. Pirelli hopes that its 20,000 calendar recipients will find that just as sexy as bare skin.