Tuesday, 11 December 2007

Tit-Tock it's Pirelli o'Clock

Hello friends,

It's getting towards the end of the year and like many responsible young people, my thoughts are turning to how I'm going to mark my time. Buying a New Years' calender is a tricky business for the aesthetically inclined. It's got to be glossy, embody in its pictures a little of my true nature and have good sized squares for me to write my important business doings and whatnots.

That said, I'll settle for boobies.

I was reminded of how much I love an arty or art-ish nude whilst browsing in Borders and happening upon The New Complete Pirelli Calendars a glossy tome that is wrist splintering in weight and filled with all the Pirelli Calendar images from 1964 to the present day. Apart from a chance to look at pretty much every supermodel that's ever been revelling in purest sun-drenched nudity, it also provides a fascinating glimpse into 50 years of mainstream erotica and how our scientific notions of phwrogh! have changed over the half century. It's also pretty cool to see models (which, face it, women and gay men pretty much own, visually and emotionally speaking) shot with an unabashed eye to the mainstream heterosexual male audience. Let us not forget, the calender is a tool to promote car tyres and I like to imagine Karen Elson's pale artistic buttocks hanging on the walls of the greasiest of garages. High fashion crossover is good, huh?


March 2001. Model: Karen Elson. Photographer: Mario Testino

Now, the book is an eye-watering £50 in the shops but like all good nerds, I swallowed my despair and went online. You can see the vast majority of Pirelli pictures at the Pirelli website
albeit in lo-res andd slightly cropped form. You should buy the book for the full experience. And some nice tyres. And Pirelli should not sue me. Yes. That part is important.

Doctor E-rotica analyses some Pirelli images from across the decades
When you're digging around the archives, the Pirelli image is fascinating. It's so strange to see how the brand has moved so much from the artish titties and beer approach to a more out-and-out high fashion stance. Now, Pirelli has always employed a lot of fashion photographers to do their shoots - pretty much everyone big in the business but a surprising number of them do soft core a great service and a an equally surprising number don't seem to be satisfied until all the world's hetero winkies have shrivelled and inverted like sea anemones.

See here:


August 1969. Photographer: Harri Pecchinotti,

This shoot, only the fifth in Pirelli's history, is one of my favourites. No 'name' models but a really amazing scuzzy San Antonio vibe. Sassy urban girls in bikinis....who don't know they're being watched - check those low angles and photographer's print sheet motif and marvel at the seedy voyeurism that's being implied. 'Don't Walk' and 'Don't Touch', friend because this is the sexually violent urban world that created "Last Exit to Brooklyn".These natural untouched photos are genuinely sexy but they're critiquing our lewdness even as we look. It's a really amazing juggling act.


November 1970, Model: Alexandra Bastedo. Photographer: Francis Giacobetti

Crude, sure. But I love an image that cuts to the chase. The Pirelli calender was always meant to be photographs ofglorious women with their tits out, shot by master photographers. The ultra zoom on the nipple is erotic, sure but also turns the breast into this strange abstraction. I love we can see the texture of the cotton (is there anything more innocent and prim then a grey cotton bra? I love love love that juxtaposition) and the moisture on the skin. A lovely breast is one thing but a visceral lovely breast is quite another.


November 1972. Photographer: Sarah Moon

This is the first Pirelli shoot photographed by a woman and it shows. It's a very female type of sexuality on show here, with an emphasis on texture and implication. It also doesn't acknowledge maleness or the male gaze - the whole year it's the same: gauzey, lacey Pretty Baby style pseudo lesbianism. It may not do it for the fellas but I think it's pretty ace. The fact that the lovely frizzy grainy 1970s style resembles the decadent Ossie Clark print ads is so much the better:




Then....the 1980s happened and it was all big lips and bitches. Pirelli from this era is ACE.


November 1985. Model: Iman. Photographer: Norman Parkinson

I'm obsessed with Iman at the moment. If you're not already, I heartily endorse Project Runway: Canada as worthy of your reality TV time. Iman is a frickin' QUEEN and the Canadians provides a surprising amount of pure fashiony goodness. I salute them, their mounties and their tendency to produce excellent improvisational comics.



February 1999. Model: Sophie Dahl. Photographer: Herb Ritts

Ah, the 90s and their back to basic minimalism. The majority of the photos from this era have stark backgrounds and acres of tasteful bosom. Sidenote: don't you miss fat Sophie Dahl? I sure do - she was something magic back then.

And then Pirelli caught art. Sucks for us when Annie Leibowitz gets all Lucien Freud on our asses:



March 2000, Model: June Omura. Photographer: Annie Leibowitz

And lo! we cry as one: I can't wank to that! It's especially unfair when you consider that Leibowitz was getting some hot Susan Sontag action of her own.


Way sexier than ol' corpse flesh above. She probably wouldn't have done a Pirelli though.
What with the whole "Images anaesthetise" thing.

This brings us up to 2008 and the latest calender. Without doubt, this is the WORST Pirelli calender I've ever seen. Get this: no nudity. Not even a buttock outline. It's just a bunch of models in 'Oriental' clothing, mostly Dior.

Go to the site, you'll see Lily Donaldson, Agyness Deyn and Du Juan.....fully clothed and in a shoot more boring than American Elle (the apex of fashion zzzzzz). Talk about images anaesthetising us, Susan. Neither I nor you, nor anyone else can become aroused by Caroline Trentini with a cabbage on her head.



Wow. Bodes well, huh? 2008: Chinese Year of the Meh. Let's pray for 2009 and the full reign of the ample buttock.

Love,
B.



2 comments:

miss alice emma said...

love you!
i will eventually stop declaring my love every time i drop in on your blog, but for now you must indulge me.
i totally agree with everything you say.
my god i miss fat Sophie Dahl. A month or so ago they had a series of programmes on Roald Dahl on t'telly and they had interviews from Sophie then and Sophie now. It broke my real-woman-loving heart to see her wasted, rather than waisted, heavenliness.
x

e said...

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