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Pirelli calendar 2016 ditches sexy supermodels for strong women like Amy Schumer

This year's calendar takes a decidedly different turn, casting stars like comedian Amy Schumer, author Fran Lebowitz and rocker Patti Smith.
/ Source: TODAY

For years, the highly-anticipated Pirelli calendar has served as a mark of a model's success, featuring some of the world's most beautiful women, oftentimes scantily-clad and in provocative positions.

But for 2016, the calendar takes a decidedly different turn — casting stars like comedian Amy Schumer, author Fran Lebowitz and rocker Patti Smith, all shot by famed photographer Annie Leibovitz.

"This calendar is so completely different," Leibovitz said in a video about the production. "It is a whole other concept. Pirelli gave me that freedom. They said we want to do a departure."

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"The whole idea was not to have any pretense in these pictures," she added. "And be very straight-forward. And show these women exactly like who they are."

Serena Williams, Yoko Ono and fashion blogger Tavi Gevinson also posed for Leibovitz. Other names might be less familiar to the lucky few who get their hands on the Italian tire manufacturer's calendar: businesswoman Mellody Hobson, "Selma" director Ava DuVernay, artist Shirin Neshat, producer Kathleen Kennedy, and 77-year-old philanthropist Agnes Gund, for example. And there is one true model in the bunch: Natalia Vodianova, who is also an actress and philanthropist.

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Chinese actress and activist Yao Chen is also included in the calendar's forward.

"Every single day we photographed, I was more empowered," Leibovitz said of the strong casting. "I was more empowered with every photograph we took."

In past calendars, a significant portion of the women have appeared at least partially nude. For 2016, only Williams and Schumer stripped down, the latter reportedly part of a joke about the comedian not getting the memo about the calendar's new direction. Schumer was thrilled with how her photo (December in the calendar) turned out.

"I felt I looked more beautiful than I've ever felt in my life," she said in the Pirelli video. "And it felt like it looked like me."