Pirelli Calendar 2018 features an all-black cast of models

Starring Naomi Campbell, Whoopi Goldberg  and Lupita Nyong’o

Olivia Petter
Thursday 20 July 2017 10:22 BST
(Tim Walker)

Tim Walker and incoming British Vogue editor Edward Enninful have joined forces to create the 2018 Pirelli Calendar, featuring an all-black cast.

In homage of John Tenniel’s original Alice in Wonderland illustrations, the calendar will recreate imagery inspired by beloved characters including the Queen of Hearts, the caterpillar and Tweedledee.

Naomi Campbell takes centre stage in the Royal Beheader role with Sean “Diddy” Combs as her trusty sidekick.

Thando Hopa as the Princess of Hearts and Whoopi Goldberg as the Royal Duchess
Thando Hopa as the Princess of Hearts and Whoopi Goldberg as the Royal Duchess

The cast boasts an eclectic cacophony of talents, ages and nationalities – including Whoopi Goldberg, Ru Paul and model-turned-feminist-activist Adwoa Aboah.

Alice in Wonderland has long been a source of inspiration, transcending the bounds of literary laurel with surrealistic interpretations cropping up across art, film and music.

Yet for Tim Walker, whose enchanting extravagance is responsible for creating some of the most loved images in fashion photography, this project is a particularly revolutionary: “It’s never been done before. Alice has never been told like this”, he said.

Tim Walker and Edward Enninful
Tim Walker and Edward Enninful

Since its launch in 1964, the annual calendar has had a history for unveiling the lithe limbs of supermodels.

However, in recent years it has acquired more of a social commentary aesthetic, acting as a cultural lens through which important conversations can be conveyed artistically.

The 2016 calendar breached conformity by featuring an array of powerful women famed for their professional, social, cultural, sporting and artistic accomplishment, shot by esteemed photographer Annie Leibovitz.

Serena Williams, Amy Schumer and Yoko Ono all starred in what was an incredibly inspiring amalgamation of women of varying races, ages and body types that we don’t see enough of in popular culture.

Ru Paul pictured with Australian model Duckie Thot as Alice and Enninful.

 Ru Paul pictured with Australian model Duckie Thot as Alice and Enninful.

Though Pirelli have featured an all-black cast before - in 1987, starring a 16-year-old Campbell - the cultural relevance and overriding tone this time around feels more pertinent than ever.

“This is an important step in culture development – to push images that aren’t generic, that don’t conform to stereotypes,” said model Thando Hopa, who plays the Princess of Hearts.

Slick Woods plays the Mad Hatter
Slick Woods plays the Mad Hatter

In an industry where lack of representation is constantly coming under question, the calendar marks an important part in the seismic shift that's been shaking up the fashion world in recent months.

Brands are championing diversity more than ever before, with Gucci’s latest campaign featured an all-black cast and the autumn/winter 2017 runways boasted the most racially diverse cast of models to date.

Not to mention the fact that this year's calendar was styled by Edward Enninful, who will not only be the first black editor of British Vogue, but the first male to take the helm of the title in its 100 year history.

The former W magazine creative director was awarded an OBE in 2016 for his services to the fashion industry. His appointment to Vogue, which was announced in April, was hailed as a “historic moment” by Campbell, his long time friend who has since been named as a contributing editor to the title.

Enninful pictured with Campbell at this year's Met Gala.
Enninful pictured with Campbell at this year's Met Gala. (Rex Features)

His work for Pirelli follows a string of projects champion diversity, including an issue of W featuring all-black models in 2015 and a recent campaign for Gap which brought together a mixture of faces from the art and music worlds including Priyanka Chopra and Yara Shahidi.

Pirelli is an inaugural indication of Enninful's acclaimed revolutionary spirit, for whom diversity is more than just a trend. His refreshing approach will undoubtedly give the fashion industry the contemporary revival it's been craving when he joins Vogue next month.

Maybe, just maybe “the times they are a changing”.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in