Pirelli celebrates 50 years of its calendar girls with release of lost edition shot by Helmut Newton in 1986

As a previously unpublished edition shot by Helmut Newton for 1986 is released, we reflect on the publication's glamorous history

The crossover between cars and fashion is strange, and often strained.

Young fashion brands and creatives can be coaxed into the most awkward of pairings in order to pay the bills, while Mercedes-Benz has cornered the market in sponsorship of fashion weeks. As the tyre company Pirelli celebrates 50 years of its calendars with the publication of a “lost” issue shot by Helmut Newton for 1986, the roster of big-name talent in front of the camera and behind it proves that the relationship can mean big things for all involved.

Although Pirelli is an Italian company, the first calendar or “cal”, published for 1964, was actually the idea of the UK subsidiary of the company, which commissioned the British photographer Robert Freeman and the art director Derek Forsyth to create a marketing tool that would make the brand stand out from its domestic competitors. But there was more than just fashion and glamour in mind for those contributors who, caught up in the youth revolution of the time, chose young newcomers to model, photographing them against exotic beaches or natural locations. In 1972, Sarah Moon became the first female photographer to shoot for the calendar, bringing her trademark ethereal aesthetic to the product that was  distributed only to important customers.

In 1974, it was announced that financial  difficulties would put a halt to the publication, but a decade later it was back under the control of a new art director, Martyn Walsh, with the German photographer Uwe Ommer behind the lens. In 1987, Terence Donovan created the first Pirelli calendar to feature only black  models, including a then 16-year-old Naomi Campbell at the beginning of a career that has spanned nearly three decades.

In 1993, a change in management at Pirelli meant the calendars were taken in a new direction – all references to tyres and even subtle product placement were dropped – and a new era began. For the 1994 instalment, Herb Ritts shot supermodels Cindy Crawford, Helena Christensen and Kate Moss in “A Homage to Women” that intended to capture “the women of the 1990s and their place in the world: proud, sexy and beautiful on the inside”. Since that time, the connection to the fashion world has become ever stronger.

Occasionally, male subjects have permeated the usually all-alpha-female cast – in 1988 Barry Lategan included a male model for the first time, and a decade later, Bruce Weber cast actors and musicians including John Malkovich, Robert Mitchum and B B King. Refreshingly for a “glamour” publication, experience can outweigh the cult of youth, as in Nick Knight’s 2004 edition, which included Catherine Deneuve and Isabella Rosselini, or Inez and Vinoodh’s 2007 Hollywood special, featuring Sophia Loren. Surprisingly, it wasn’t until 2012 that the publication was shot by an Italian photographer, when Mario Sorrenti took Kate Moss, Milla Jovovich and Isabeli Fontana to Corsica.

In 1985, in-house competition between the British and Italian teams led to two calendars being commissioned. Pirelli Italia appointed Helmut Newton, who by that time was renowned not only for his nudes but his work as a true fashion creative. But that version didn’t go into production, as Newton stepped down for personal reasons and the Brit-commissioned Bert Stern images were sent to print.

To celebrate 50 years since the launch of the calendar, for its 2014 edition Pirelli has reconstructed that 1986 Newton cal – on which he worked with stylist Manuela Pavesi, now best known as the “right-hand woman” to Miuccia Prada – seen for the first time,  fully realised, a decade after the celebrated photographer’s death.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    The Grange Retirement Home: Full Time Care Team Manager

    £22,400: The Grange Retirement Home: This is a key role which requires a sound...

    Guru Careers: Membership Administrator

    £23K: Guru Careers: We're seeking an experienced Membership Administrator, to ...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K YR1: SThree: At SThree, we like to be dif...

    Guru Careers: Software Developer / Web Developer

    £30 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Software / Web Developer (PHP / MYSQL) i...

    Day In a Page

    Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

    Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

    For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
    Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

    Fifa corruption arrests

    All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
    Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

    The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

    In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
    How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

    How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

    Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
    Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

    How Stephen Mangan got his range

    Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor
    The ZX Spectrum has been crowd-funded back into play - with some 21st-century tweaks

    The ZX Spectrum is back

    The ZX Spectrum was the original - and for some players, still the best. David Crookes meets the fans who've kept the games' flames lit
    Grace of Monaco film panned: even the screenwriter pours scorn on biopic starring Nicole Kidman

    Even the screenwriter pours scorn on Grace of Monaco biopic

    The critics had a field day after last year's premiere, but the savaging goes on
    Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people used to believe about periods

    Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people once had about periods

    If one was missed, vomiting blood was seen as a viable alternative
    The best work perks: From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)

    The quirks of work perks

    From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)
    Is bridge the latest twee pastime to get hip?

    Is bridge becoming hip?

    The number of young players has trebled in the past year. Gillian Orr discovers if this old game has new tricks
    Long author-lists on research papers are threatening the academic work system

    The rise of 'hyperauthorship'

    Now that academic papers are written by thousands (yes, thousands) of contributors, it's getting hard to tell workers from shirkers
    The rise of Lego Clubs: How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships

    The rise of Lego Clubs

    How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships
    5 best running glasses

    On your marks: 5 best running glasses

    Whether you’re pounding pavements, parks or hill passes, keep your eyes protected in all weathers
    Joe Root: 'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

    'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

    Joe Root says the England dressing room is a happy place again – and Stokes is the catalyst
    Raif Badawi: Wife pleads for fresh EU help as Saudi blogger's health worsens

    Please save my husband

    As the health of blogger Raif Badawi worsens in prison, his wife urges EU governments to put pressure on the Saudi Arabian royal family to allow her husband to join his family in Canada