Pirelli, the 5th largest tyre manufacturer in the world, is well known by soccer fans and fashionista despite most of them not having a clue what tyre brand is on their car. The Milan based company has been the shirt sponsor for Inter Milan since 1995 and has published their iconic fashion driven calendar since 1964.

The Pirelli 2016 calendar was unveiled today and is taking a new approach.  Annie Leibovitz is behind the lens and is focused on portraits of accomplished females – Rookie founder Tavi Gevinson, tennis legend Serena Williams, comedian Amy Schumer, artist/activist Yoko Ono, writer Fran Lebowitz, musician and author Patti Smith, supermodel Natalia Vodianova, chairperson of Lucasfilm Kathleen Kennedy, Chinese actress Yao Chen, business and financial mogul Mellody Hobson, director and screenwriter Ava DuVernay, art collector and chairman of MoMA PS1 Agnes Gund with granddaughter Sadie Rain Hope-Gund, and Iranian visual artist Shirin Neshat – black-and-white images.

Pirelli 2016 calendar - Serena Williams and Patti Smith
“Pirelli came to me and told me they wanted to shift this year to something different,” Leibovitz said at the release press conference. “I made the suggestion that they do women performance artists or women comedians, almost a take-off. I just thought of women I admired and I didn’t let anyone in the studio from Pirelli.”

In the past, the calendar has photographed top models, such as Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, and others, in the nude.  The limited edition printings usually become collector’s items not as much for the subjects in the photos each month but due to the fact that the calendar is not available for purchase but given to VIP’s and top clients.

The change in calendar format may not be the only change in the works for Pirelli.  Rumors suggest that their 20 year relationship with Inter may be coming to an end with Etihad Airways taking the jersey sponsorship.  The deal with the Middle Eastern airline is said to be in the $26 million per year range, double the current deal with Pirelli.

What will be a harder change to get used to…the change of Inter’s Pirelli jersey sponsor or the new calendar format?