50 Years of Fashion’s Sexiest Calendar (NSFW)

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The list of those who have been involved with the Pirelli Calendar could also read as a roundup of the great models and photographers of the last few decades: Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, Iman, Cindy Crawford, Karlie Kloss, Richard Avedon, Annie Leibovitz, Bruce Weber, Helmut Newton, Peter Lindbergh. Since the Italian tire company started producing its promotional calendar as a way to advertise to car dealers in 1962, it’s become somewhat of a cultural institution. Photographer Patrick Demarchelier has called it the most prestigious calendar in the world: “Every girl we pick says yes.”

Nude photos sponsored by a tire company may sound louche, and at times they have been  Terry Richardson's photos from 2010 have not aged well. But for the most part, the pictures compiled in Taschen's Pirelli — The Calendar, 50 Years and More, which came out this weekend, are notable for more than just nudity. The calendar occasionally made history, like in 1987, when a 16-year-old Naomi Campbell was asked to pose topless for a U.K.-produced edition starring only black models. (She called her mom to make sure it was okay.) Campbell appeared again for Richard Avedon in 1995, covered in gold leaf, sand, and butterflies. “If you’re in the fashion industry, working for the Pirelli Calendar is something you dream may one day happen to you,” said Carine Roitfeld. 

Click through the slideshow to see some of the best photos from the past 50 years, including a 19-year-old Kate Moss on the beach for Herb Ritts, Natasha Poly as a Greek goddess for Karl Lagerfeld, and Adriana Lima in latex for Steven Meisel.

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