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Karl Lagerfeld recently unveiled the latest iteration of Pirelli’s ongoing series of calendars. Photographed by Lagerfeld himself, the calendar is comprised of 36 black & white images over 15 female models and 5 male models. Models are based on various mythical personalities such as gods and goddesses. The calendar is being unveiled at the Ritz-Carlton in Moscow. Excerpts from an interview on the collaboration can be see below.
Frédéric Beigbeder: What made you choose the theme of Greek and Roman mythology?
Karl Lagerfeld: Because it’s my favourite religion: one god for every occasion. I’m a polytheist: all
present-day religions are recent, but I prefer this mythology, which does without hell, without sin (an
obstacle to happiness), and without forgiveness. We need to return to the disciplined form of beauty
of Antiquity. Simone Weil said that Jesus was a direct descendant of Prometheus – which caused a
scandal at the time. I love the goddesses, because they were the first emancipated women. They had
a right to everything. The female divinities and the Muses are feminists!
When does your fascination with the myths of Antiquity date back to?
The first two books I read, when I was six, were Homer’s Iliad and the Nibelung. While the
Germanic stories frightened me, Homer had a huge influence on me – it’s my educational source.
What’s so brilliant about ancient paganism is that there are lots of gods, the spirits move around, and
there are heroes, demigods, genii, and nymphs… Humans were much closer to the gods than they are
in the monotheistic religions. In those days I had no idea that I myself would become a god!! (laughs)
Before you were chosen by Pirelli for this 2011 edition, did you know about the Pirelli calendar?
Yes, especially the one by Avedon (1995), which I adored. It was erudite, but also sexy and
simple. I’m also a fan of Sarah Moon – she was the first to show her breast at the age of 72. She
emanates great poetry.
What does Pirelli mean to you?
It’s a tyre manufacturer that made an image for itself with these calendars – you can’t buy them,
and this gives them an aura of mystery. It’s a form of viral marketing way ahead of its time. When they
started, they made them for mechanics and truck drivers! But they soon became landmarks in the art
Why the black background?
I find it enhances the nude; it highlights the beauty of the body through contrast.
Why black and white rather than colour?
A bit of black and white was refreshing, and it made a change from my illustrious predecessors,
and in real life I’m a black-and-white person myself!