Icon­i­cally Pirelli

Athleisure - - Contents - @Pirelli PHO­TOG­RA­PHY Al­bert Wat­son | ARTIS­TIC DI­REC­TION Baron & Baron | PRO­DUC­TION DE­SIGNER Steve Kim­mel |

We talk about the newlry re­leased The Cal by Pirelli that was shot by Al­bert Wat­son and in­cludes a num­ber of im­ages with Gigi Ha­did, Misty Copeland, Alexan­der Wang and more.

Each year a pho­to­graphic vi­sion is re­leased from Pirelli, known as THE CAL which has iconic pho­tog­ra­phers from Karl Lager­feld, An­nie Lei­bovitz and more that have cre­ated im­agery all over the world with no­table mod­els and celebri­ties to trans­mit their vi­sion. This year, Ger­man pho­tog­ra­pher, Al­bert Wat­son had the task to in­ter­pret his vi­sion through the just re­leased THE CAL for 2019. We took some time to find out about his ap­proach to work­ing on this project, be­ing on set as well as how this in­te­grates into his body of work!

ATH­LEISURE MAG: How did you ap­proach the Pirelli Cal­en­dar project?

AL­BERT WAT­SON: The Pirelli Cal­en­dar is a unique project for any pho­tog­ra­pher. When I first took it on, I wanted to do it in a way that would be dif­fer­ent from that of other pho­tog­ra­phers, and I won­dered what the best way would be. In the end, I looked for pic­tures that were of beau­ti­ful qual­ity, with depth to them, and that had some kind of nar­ra­tive. I wanted to cre­ate some­thing that was more than just a por­trait of some­body – I wanted it to look just like a film still. I wanted peo­ple look­ing at the Cal­en­dar to see that my aim was pho­tog­ra­phy in its purest form, ex­plor­ing the women I was pho­tograph­ing and cre­at­ing a sit­u­a­tion that would con­vey a pos­i­tive vi­sion of women to­day.

AM: How did you for­mu­late the project?

AW: I wanted to en­sure there would be a strong nar­ra­tive, so I thought: “Let’s try and make the shots look like film stills.” Quite a lot of it was shot in widescreen for­mat. And that was quite chal­leng­ing. Each of the four women has her own in­di­vid­u­al­ity, her own par­tic­u­lar pur­pose in life, and her own way of do­ing things. And they are all fo­cused on their fu­ture. So the un­der­ly­ing theme is that of “dreams”, but the ba­sic idea be­hind the whole project is that of telling a story in four ‘lit­tle movies’.

AM: Could you tell us about the sto­ries that bring your Cal­en­dar to life?

AW: Each char­ac­ter has a part to play in the 2019 Pirelli Cal­en­dar. In some cases, the role was close to what the ac­tress does for a liv­ing, but here they were cer­tainly all act­ing a part. Not them­selves. And that’s what I wanted.

The woman played by Gigi Ha­did has just split up with her com­pan­ion. She has a con­fi­dant, not a boyfriend, played by the de­signer Alexan­der Wang. He is help­ing her get over this dif­fi­cult time. I think there’s a de­gree of angst in these im­ages. With Gigi Ha­did’s char­ac­ter, I wanted to con­vey the sense of a woman think­ing about her fu­ture, but also show­ing her in a sit­u­a­tion of lone­li­ness. We see her think­ing about where she’s go­ing to go in life, what she’ll be do­ing to­mor­row. I wanted her to be much more min­i­mal­is­tic than the other women I pho­tographed, and I wanted her to be re­flected in the set­tings I por­trayed her in. The set­tings of the other pro­tag­o­nists are pretty crowded, and there’s ac­tion in al­most all of them.”

Ju­lia Gar­ner’s char­ac­ter is a botan­i­cal pho­tog­ra­pher who dreams of putting on suc­cess­ful ex­hi­bi­tions. Ju­lia’s a very, very ac­com­plished ac­tress and she got straight into the char­ac­ter. We were in a beau­ti­ful trop­i­cal gar­den in Mi­ami, which turned out to be the per­fect place for us to work.

Misty Copeland and Calvin Royal III, on the other hand, play the part of two dancers who want to be­come fa­mous and live in an Art Deco house. She’s dream­ing of danc­ing in Paris. She is look­ing to the fu­ture and has am­bi­tions. Try­ing to be suc­cess­ful is her driv­ing force. Copeland’s char­ac­ter earns her liv­ing by danc­ing in a club, but at the same time she has also put up a lit­tle stage in her gar­den, where she prac­tices danc­ing in or­der to be­come a star, some­times with her boy-

friend, played by Calvin Royal III.

The artist played by Laeti­tia Casta lives in a stu­dio apart­ment, which she shares with her part­ner, played by Sergei Pol­unin. They are both dream­ing of suc­cess: she as an artist, he as a dancer. We de­cided to shoot out­side, to give the scenes some added nat­u­ral bright­ness. The trop­i­cal at­mos­phere of Mi­ami is a key com­po­nent in this pic­ture. What’s in­ter­est­ing is that Laeti­tia told me that, in her spare time, she re­ally does do a lot of sculpt­ing and cre­ates art­work. This worked out very well and helped her get into char­ac­ter.

AM: What was the role played by light in this project?

AW: When I was young, the first fa­mous per­son I pho­tographed was Al­fred Hitch­cock. He said: “My dear boy, once you’ve fin­ished the sto­ry­board, the movie is fin­ished – all I have to do is shoot it.” There’s a cer­tain amount of his mes­sage that has stayed with me. The 2019 Cal­en­dar is like a cine­matic sto­ry­board. I was very lucky be­cause I trained as a graphic de­signer for four years and then I went to The Royal Col­lege of Art Film School for three years and I came out as a di­rec­tor. I never trained as a pho­tog­ra­pher and, from that point on, I had to learn to be a pho­tog­ra­pher and know about light­ing. As a pho­tog­ra­pher, the tech­ni­cal things for me were very dif­fi­cult, it wasn’t nat­u­ral. In­tu­itively, a cine­matic aes­thetic was quite nat­u­ral for me to fol­low. A lot of my work is based on graph­ics and film or some­times on a com­bi­na­tion of the two. It was quite easy for me to drop into this for the Cal­en­dar and pro­duce im­ages like film stills. It was a mat­ter of mak­ing all these dif­fer­ent el­e­ments come to­gether and make a strong nar­ra­tive. The com­mon de­nom­i­na­tor is that these peo­ple are all ac­tive: they’re think­ing of their fu­ture and they’re dream­ing of where they might be in five, ten, twenty years...

AM: Did you like work­ing on the set?

AW: I know some peo­ple work well with a lot of ten­sion on set, and part of their cre­ativ­ity comes from this, but I’m ac­tu­ally the op­po­site of that. If I’m hav­ing fun with peo­ple, if I’m en­joy­ing be­ing with them and play­ing around, I get a lot more out of them. I some­times say to young pho­tog­ra­phers that it’s ‘lo­ca­tion, lo­ca­tion, lo­ca­tion’. But in a case like this, it’s more ‘prepa­ra­tion, prepa­ra­tion, prepa­ra­tion’. The more you prep for the job, the more cre­ative it will be. It’s think­ing and plan­ning, plan­ning, plan­ning. That’s what’s re­ally im­por­tant.

I had a tremen­dous amount of sup­port when cre­at­ing the vi­sion for the Cal­en­dar. Steve Kim­mel was the art di­rec­tor, along with Arnold Bar­ros and Belinda Scott, and they did a bril­liant job. Thanks to their ded­i­ca­tion, it all went per­fectly. James Kaliar­dos did our make-up. He did a fan­tas­tic job, beau­ti­ful, in­vis­i­ble, but yet there. The hair, by Kerry Warne, was al­ways nat­u­ral for each of the women. He’s had a lot of ex­pe­ri­ence in film work, so he was per­fect for this project.

Ju­lia Von Boehm did the styling and fash­ion edit­ing. On top of that, I had my own team of as­sis­tants and dig­i­tal ed­i­tors, Taro Hashimura and Emi Robin­son, as well as Adrian Pot­ter. All these peo­ple con­trib­uted in a great way, so this was def­i­nitely much more like a film project than a pho­tog­ra­phy one.

AM: Have you ful­filled your dreams?

AW: To make a dream come true, you need to work hard. I’ve al­ways taken it

step by step, reach­ing one goal at a time, with­out want­ing to get im­me­di­ately to the top of the lad­der. Even though I some­times think this lad­der could go on for­ever, with the top rung ever-fur­ther away, I think it's al­ways worth giv­ing your­self in­creas­ingly am­bi­tious goals and dreams.

| PG 26, 30 + 34 Gigi Ha­did + Alexan­der Wang | PG 28 Lateti­tia Casta *+ Sergei Pol­unin | PG 32 Misty Copeland |

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