The 2023 Pirelli Calendar celebrates the muses who have inspired photographer Emma Summerton and, more broadly, the remarkable power, passion and talent of women
Before Karlie Kloss became a globally known supermodel, she was a sports and science-loving young woman who aimed to become either a paediatrician or a kindergarten teacher.
Life, obviously, had other plans and when, in 2007, a recently discovered Kloss walked in New York Fashion Week, her extraordinary career as a model and fashion icon was born. In the decade and a half since, she has walked in “every runway show I’ve ever dreamt of walking”, been on countless magazine covers (including over 40 editions of Vogue) and featured in campaigns for brands from Adidas to Versace. She continues to be a muse to many of the world’s top designers, photographers and stylists.
But Kloss’s inner love for science never quieted and in 2014, the 6ft 2in (1.88m) model took her first class in computer coding. She was soon hooked and, as she learned more about programming, became frustrated at how this technical “superpower” was wielded chiefly by “a very small group of men in Silicon Valley”.
Getting girls into coding
Determined to give young women access to such skills, the Missouri-raised entrepreneur and philanthropist launched Kode With Klossy in 2015. The US-wide programme offers free coding camps for girls aged 13-18 so they can learn software engineering, develop apps and gain the skills and confidence to “realise their fullest potential” in a technology-driven world.
“I love being a model and working with the most incredible creatives in the world,” Kloss said, “but it has also provided me with a platform to do what at my core I really love, which is to help other young women realise the role that they can play in the world and that you don’t have to be just one thing.
“There are so many aspects of who I am, and who all of us are, and I want young women to realise the power that they hold and help equip them to become the leaders of today and tomorrow.”
“I want young women to realise the power that they hold and help equip them to become the leaders of today and tomorrow”
Using your voice
For Summerton’s Pirelli Calendar, titled Love Letters to the Muse, Kloss embodied The Tech Savant, donning a futuristic, light-up outfit with silvery boots and a blue wig and posing in a sci-fi dome-like structure of mirrors and lights. “I felt like a superhero,” she said, adding that being photographed by Summerton made her “feel fierce and fabulous and beautiful and sexy and strongand empowered”.
The shoot marks the second time Kloss has appeared in The Cal; she first featured in the 2013 Calendar shot in Brazil by photojournalist Steve McCurry.
“I think I was probably in the Pirelli Calendar last time around because of my careeras a model and I think that the reason I am in the Pirelli Calendar this year is because of who I am as a person and what I stand for,” said Kloss.
“I think that the reason I am in the Pirelli Calendar this year is because of who I am as a person and whatI stand for”
“Now it’s not just about being in this Calendar because of what you look like, it’s because of who you are and what you are doing with your life, with your time, with your platform, with your voice; no matter how big or small that is.
“We all have a voice, we all have some sort of platform, power, privilege that we can use to help other people and for me that’s what I care deeply about.”
A life of learning
As well as modelling, philanthropy and her business pursuits, Kloss is a television host, activist, and mother to a one-year-old.
And, of course, she remains science-minded, still entertaining the idea of possibly training to become a doctor (even though she doesn’t like the sight of blood, she loves “the idea of being able to help people in a very tangible way”) and even, one day, going into space.
“I am a curious person who just loves to keep growing and learning,” she said.