Love Letters to the Muse, the backstage of the Pirelli 2023 Calendar signed by Emma Summerton

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Pirelli Calendar 2023

Powerful images, almost dreamlike shots that contain a vision of reality in some way ancestral, an elegance with a retro atmosphere so as to be innovative with great sensuality, for an artistic project that tells of today’s world, of the world of women, not only beautiful in appearance, top also for what they represent: here are the Muses … Adwoa Aboah is the queen, Adut Akech the dream catcher, He Cong gives life to the wise, Cara Delevingne tells the performer, Ashley Graham the activist, Bella Hadid embodies the sprite of fairy tales, Karlie Kloss expert in new technologies, Precious Lee is a narrator, Lila Moss as a seer, Sasha Pivovarova shows off as a painter and then Emily Ratajkowski the writer, Guinevere van Seenus also a photographer, Lauren Wasser (the girl with legs gold) is the athlete and Kaya Wilkins is the musician.


Being aware of embarking on a business trip that will take you to distant worlds, which belong exclusively to you as a spectator but certainly not in the daily grind, is already a great fortune. If you also know you are going to the set of the Pirelli Calendar to see with your own eyes the artistic process and the protagonists who guide the creation of what is considered by most to be an object of desire, as glamorous as it is iconic, then everything is declined for exclusivity, in the true sense of the term. We arrive in New York, with a van with “obviously” dark glasses and we are taken to the Pier59 studios, one of the two locations chosen for the shooting. The second is at the Big Sky Studios in London. We take a freight elevator in pure New York style to enter huge spaces with a post-industrial atmosphere where “The Cal 2023” comes to life. Everything smells of creativity, room after room, a large room dedicated to make-up and hairstyles, then the tailor’s shop where a long table stands out, above many jewels, costume jewelery, necklaces, earrings, crowns, tiaras, accessories of all kinds, up to to the actual sets. They explain to us that each installation has been designed and created with meticulous care, always present the egg as a sign of birth and life, there is no shortage of personal items, which belong to Emma Summerton, one of the most popular artist and fashion photographer. Emma welcomes us with a big smile. He sits among us journalists, together with part of his staff and with extreme simplicity he tells us about his Pirelli calendar: “Initially I asked myself what was a source of inspiration for me so that I could carry out the best possible project. The answer was women, starting with my mother, friends and then film actresses, singers, musicians and so on.… So I wanted to recreate a set and a world for each of these women who have represented icons of inspiration for me, in my own as in the lives of many other people. My concept is “the muses” even if initially I didn’t want to use the word muse because it is so abused that it has also taken on a negative meaning but then we decided to bring it back to its original meaning because it means art and creativity. We chose the models not only for their beauty but also for their talent, their strength. You know how to work with those who can enter your world, understanding your role and who can give you something else: what they are thinking, their creative energy … Photographing a person is not just a matter of appearance but of everything that is more and this gives the image a full dimension. Having this feminine energy on set is just amazing. In this context we talk about who they are, what they do and we give them a platform where they can express their world, not just their beauty or show off the dress, an incredible energy is created and to be honest it is exciting, moving at times. In my life I drew inspiration from painting, sculpture, poetry, music, movies so I chose what inspires me in life and the women they do, who have a story as well as being beautiful …“. The tour continues, we see her at work. Music is the protagonist, while Emma with her camera in her hands, lies down on the ground or climbs a ladder, while she talks to her staff or confronts her muse to be immortalized. You check the smallest detail, silence is a must, many people at work, they are all concentrated, every single step is part of the mechanism, here art is a question of professionalism, we are watching.

The interview in the Pentahouse suite

The day after the visit to the sets, the appointment with Emma Summerton is at the hotel. This is the opportunity to get a closer look at what the Pirelli calendar of 2023 will be like: “This calendar is about women, not only their beauty but their strength, their talents, their inspirations, all the things that make them wonderful and inspiration ”, the charming Australian artist tells us.“I think it is important for people to be able to dream and be somehow taken out of everyday life, to look at the world in different ways – he emphasizes and adds – through art, films, through music. Without these things everything would seem so ‘bare’with all the terrible things happening in the world, from what humans do to each other to natural disasters and the list goes on … If we didn’t have art, the music that inspires people, who then do things, which are inspirational by elevating our hearts, minds and spirits, it would be unbearable, it’s medicine! “.

We ask her: “Emma you are a woman who photographs women, why?” “It’s about sharing the experience of being a woman, she replies, taking the time to talk about being a woman, what it means to be beautiful, admiring each other, I think it’s really important that women support each other and encourage each other. I have great friends who help me, they inspire me. If I’m having a hard time I can talk to them… I think it’s an important conversation. It is interesting and then one of the things I like about getting older is that I am more inclined to share my vulnerabilities with my friends and understand that they have them too, it is difficult for everyone equally and we can make things easier for each other. ‘other“.

The conversation continues and we we ask her as a fashion photographer what’s hot? She laughs: “Be yourself, be authentic, loving… be sexy, I think”.

Before saying goodbye, one last curiosity, but what did she think when they asked her to make “The Cal”, the answer is immediate: “I immediately thought: I don’t believe it! I want confirmation. Even after a couple of weeks that I knew I was going to do the calendar I still couldn’t believe it. Everything is simply incredible… ”.


Title: “Love Letters to the Muse”

Photographer: Emma Summerton

Edition: 49

Talents: Adwoa Aboah, Adut Akech, He Cong, Cara Delevingne, Ashley Graham, Bella Hadid, Karlie Kloss, Precious Lee, Lila Moss, Sasha Pivovarova, Emily Ratajkowski, Guinevere van Seenus, Lauren Wasser, Kaya Wilkins

Shooting: 3 days in New York (Pier59 Studios)

1 day in London (Big Sky Studios)

Calendar Design Art Direction: Tenzin Wild

Casting Director: Piergiorgio Del Moro

Set Designer: Viki Rutsch

Stylist: Amanda Harlech

Hair Stylist: Eugene Souleiman

Make-Up Artist: Hiromi Ueda