“I have always loved the idea of escaping reality,” Naomi Campbell tells CR with a grin. Clad in colorful tangerine and blood orange—an ensemble comprised of fashion pieces by friends Virgil Abloh and Thom Browne—the supermodel is all smiles at New York’s Pierre hotel for the debut of next year’s Pirelli calendar.
Each year the highly-anticipated publication is interpreted by an iconic creative—from the likes of Terence Donovan in its inception in 1963 to Peter Lindbergh last year—and 2018’s is no exception. Famous for his avant-garde eye, British photographer Tim Walker teamed up with icon Edward Enninful and creative director Shona Heath to reinterpret Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland in a new visual story for today. But rather than giving into common tropes of inspiration, the trio reimagined the tale of otherworldly escape into an unbelievably-modern context, using figures from modern pop culture that together make up an all-black cast.
“Alice has been told so many times,” says Walker. “I didn’t want to be influenced by Disney’s interpretation or Tim Burton’s interpretation, I wanted to just go back to the core of the imagination,.”
Walker’s vision of Alice in Wonderland stars CR-favorite Duckie Thot as the calendar’s title character alongside a list of famous faces and even surprise names. Rapper Lil Yachty, for instance, stars as the Queen’s Guard, while break-out bad girl Slick Woods becomes the Mad Hatter. They are joined too by Djimon Hounsou, Lupita Nyong’o, RuPaul, Sasha Lane, Whoopi Goldberg, and Zoe Bedeaux. along with models Adut Akech, Adwoa Aboah, Alpha Dia, King Owusu, Thando Hopa, Wilson Oryema, and Zoe Bedeaux.
In a stark contrast to her loquacious look today, Campbell is transformed in an austere scene with Sean Combs aka P. Diddy in which the longtime friends co-star as the Royal Beheaders. Their axes are almost as severe as the duo’s piercing stares. “Sean is so inspiring. He was just like, ‘Ok, get into character, sis,'” she remembers. “We actually share the same acting coach, so [Combs] knows how to get into character and how to get me to do so, too. It was so much fun—we were all just singing and dancing.”
This marks the super’s fourth time appearing in Pirelli’s annual publication, which she calls “a reoccurring honor,” having starred in past editions by Donovan, Richard Avedon, and Patrick Demarchelier. That—along with her bonds to Walker (“always an inspiration,” she describes) and Enninful, who is “more than just her brother”—made this collaboration a personal project for Campbell. “From the 31 years that I’ve been modeling, what we’re doing right now is pretty iconic,” she says. “Not only for creativity but also for diversity. With this calendar—in addition to Edward’s new Vogue, which I’m very proud of him for, and Sean being one of the only black men in the top minds of Forbes—it’s such an amazing time. I feel it will remain this way.”
As for the best costume in this telling of Alice in Wonderland, the supermodel contends that RuPaul earned that title—”How could he not?”END
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