The decade from 1964 to ’74
The early years of “The Cal”™ were the days of the Beatles, rock music and the mini skirt, but also youth protest movements and anti-Vietnam peace rallies. The Calendar soon cast off its original role as a “corporate freebie” for key clients, becoming an exclusive publication destined for a select few recipients.
The models were mostly young newcomers, photographed in atmospheric, elite settings: exotic beach backdrops and natural locations. But even these early glossy images yielded a glimpse of the Calendar’s true aesthetic and cultural philosophy: “The Cal”™ aspired to be a sign of changing times. In 1968 Harri Peccinotti took inspiration from the poetry of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Allen Ginsberg and Ronsard, while the following year he rejected formal poses for more natural, spontaneous shots captured on California’s sunny beaches. In 1972 Sarah Moon became the first woman photographer to shoot the Calendar, shattering taboos along the way.
The announcement in March 1974 that publication was to come to a halt caused much more of an outcry in the British and international media than the launch had, a sure sign of the growing success of the Pirelli Calendar. The following decade various books, collections and anthologies, in different languages, were devoted to it, the most famous being a 1975 publication covering the ten years of “The Cal”™, complete with a nostalgic foreword written by none other than David Niven.