The 2023 Pirelli Calendar celebrates the muses who have inspired photographer Emma Summerton and, more broadly, the remarkable power, passion and talent of women
At the beginning of Emily Ratajkowski’s NY Times bestselling book My Body, the model quotes cultural commentator John Berger’s Ways of Seeing:
“You painted a naked woman because you enjoyed looking at her, you put a mirror in her hand and you called the painting Vanity, thus morally condemning the woman whose nakedness you had depicted for your own pleasure.”
In Emma Summerton’s Love Letters to the Muse-inspired 2023 Pirelli Calendar, Ratajkowski embodies The Writer – and for the photoshoot, Summerton drew on the model’s use of Berger’s quote.
“Somehow it made sense to have her reflect her face in the hand mirror,” Summerton said. “But not in a way she was looking at herself, in a way that we were made to look at her as two different people, two identities.”
Ratajkowski, who Summerton described as “very focused, present and amazing to work with”, was photographed in a set built to resemble a hotel room with a floral carpet and blind-covered window. She posed on the bed in underwear and a long black negligee with trailing lacy sleeves, a white ruff and giant Stephen Jones hat. There were two hand mirrors in the set, one which she held, another on the bed, and at times the lights caught in the glass and flared, “reflecting back at the viewer”, Summerton explained.
The hotel room was chosen because “in a romantic idea of a writer, it always feels like they have a special place where they write”, Summerton said.
Born in London to American parents, Ratajkowski grew up in San Diego, California. Since 2017, Ratajkowski has successfully translated her more than 28M followers on Instagram into a successful direct-to-consumer business via her apparel line, Inamorata.
In 2019, her success was recognized by The Daily with the prestigious Fashion Entrepreneur of the Year award.
As a model, she has appeared on the covers of major fashion & lifestyle magazines and is currently the face of L’Oréal’s hair care line Kerastase. As an actress, she has appeared in multiple films, including David Fincher’s Gone Girl and alongside Amy Schumer in I Feel Pretty. She is also outspoken politically, continually using her platform to advocate for the important issues of our time.
She said she was excited to appear in the Pirelli Calendar, because as a young girl, while she found fashion “pretty intimidating”, she “found Pirelli to just be art. And I really responded to it.”
“What I like about what Pirelli has done, especially in the last couple of years, is not only thinking about the art-making in the images, but also about the subjects and who they are. And that to meis control. That's more interesting to me.”
In particular, she said, she feels “really honoured to be The Writer in Emma’s eyes”.
Honesty and truth
Ratajkowski has continually been praised as brave, but she does not consider herself so. “I think for me I've always been really interested in honesty and truth, and I feel that we live in a world where honesty and truth is subverted. There are so many things about my experience of having a job where the way you look is your currency – for women, in general, it's some type of currency, but for me it is so literal. And it felt so important that I spoke truth to my experiences.”
“I think for me I've always been really interested in honesty and truth, and I feel that we live in a world where honesty and truth is subverted”