Lewd Pirelli calendars so last year

By Michael Day

Feminists in macho Italy hope it could be the end of the road for raunchy Pirelli-style calendars amid claims the country is ditching the traditional nude for worthier charity varieties.

Stealing the limelight from flesh-filled publications, with their bare-breasted models splayed over the bonnets of red Ferraris, it is claimed, are a host of calendars being sold for the benefit of good causes.

The latest Marie Claire calendar leads the way, featuring Fabrizio Ferri portraits of 12 up-and-coming actresses, including Micaela Ramazzotti, Francesca Inaudi and Vittoria Puccini - with their clothes on. Proceeds will go to the charity D.i.Re, which campaigns against domestic violence.

Also in the works is a calendar of women MPs to raise awareness of eating disorders and even one encouraging the adoption of stray dogs.

These might sound less like sure-fire winners than the tried-and-trusted fleshpot formula of the Pirelli calendar and its many imitators. But some are optimistic.

"Everyone is so over the gratuitous display of naked bodies," said Italian fashion designer Guillermo Mariotto, adding people expected more wit and variety these days.

"There's a cute one with fake priests which I've given to friends in Northern Europe," he said.

However, the Italian press said the switch from raunchy calendars to charity products reflected not just the long-awaited arrival of women's rights in Italy but also the failure of calendar-makers to attract big names to strip off or pose in bikinis in recent years.

It seems little-known starlets and Big Brother participants are having to fill in for genuine celebrities.

In the past, celebrated actresses such as Monica Bellucci posed for sexy calendars.

"Real actresses don't pose in the nude any more because it's no longer a novelty but an inflated phenomenon for B-list models," Mariotto said.

But it is probably premature to write off the Pirelli calendar just yet, with news that the tyre-maker is seeking to re-invent the product by replacing sex with old-style Hollywood glamour.

According to the blurb, the 2011 calendar will ditch cleavages on sports cars for "a fresh take on classical beauty with Karl Lagerfeld's collection of sumptuous shots inspired by Greek mythology".

The German fashion designer and photographer dressed the Hollywood actress Julianne Moore and 20 other models - including five men - in golden laurel wreaths and body paint for the latest edition of the calendar.

"It's necessary to return to a certain disciplined form of beauty and I adore the goddesses because they were the first liberated women, who had the right to everything," Lagerfeld said, with a straight face, to reporters during the official launch in Moscow.

Lagerfeld, who designs for Chanel, Fendi and his own fashion house, portrayed Moore as the Greek deity Hera. As befits the queen of the gods and a Hollywood A-lister, she was allowed to keep her clothes on. Something that can't be said for many of the other models, who appear in a more traditional Italo-Pirellian style.

The calendar was first launched by Pirelli in 1964 and quickly became a big success thanks to its glamorous and scantily clad women and "artistic nudes".

- INDEPENDENT

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