Pirelli Calendar by Sarah Moon, 1972

The legend
In spite of the fame achieved, problems in creating unusual photographs, which measure up to that fame, begin to appear.

1972 is a year of change. Derek Forsyth, the art director, is perfectly aware of the need to find a way to differentiate the Pirelli Calendar from the abundance of pornography floating around, and from vulgar images, which seem to shout from every street corner. Forsyth understands that the public is tired of seeing close ups of nude bodies, and wants something new – something authentically female.

Thus the decision to take a risk – to entrust the 1972 edition to a woman photographer: Sarah Moon.

Sarah Moon has been described as an impressionist photographer. Moon uses 35 mm film, loves soft backgrounds, and makes heavy use of plays of light. Her photos have a style that reminds one of paintings. As a person, Moon is moody, her coldness leaves people perplexed, and she is not well liked by journalists.

Moon works in harmony with her assistant, Mike Youel, to whom she leaves many tasks so that she is free to concentrate on the photography.

Paris is chosen as the location for this year’s shoot, a city Sarah Moon dearly loves. Paris is a choice that will not weigh heavily on Pirelli’s budget. The Villa Les Tilleuls is the site for the photographs, it is now abandoned, but served as headquarters for the Gestapo during the Second World War. A lot of work is needed to get it in shape, and Moon, does most of it herself. The result is a location out of this world, with a fantastic atmosphere.

There is no precise theme for this year’s Calendar: the subject is the woman, not as a provocateur of erotic messages, but secure in her femininity.

Sarah Moon desires to work with models of her own choosing: Mick Lindburg, Suzanne Moncur, Boni Pfeifer, Inger Hammer, Magritt Rahn, and Barbara Trethman. All are petite, far from the idea of voluptuousness.

With them, Sarah Moon is patient and meticulous, and able to create a rapport of spontaneity and friendship, which lends authenticity to the images-there is no need to be sexy at all costs.

This is criticised by some men, to the point that they judge the Calendar to have a lesbian quality.

The press, however, likes the Calendar and the success of this edition is actually heightened by the insinuations surrounding it.

The first woman to photograph the calendar was the ex-model Sarah Moon, who took the 1972 Pirelli pictures – often regarded as some of the most beautiful – in the once gracious Villa les Tilleuls, across the road from Chateau de la Malmaison, near Paris. The structure of this calendar, with each month separated by a sheet with the pictures, initiated a new style and also a new business: opportunists bought up black-market calendars, framed each shot and charged £100 per picture.

The theme
A fully ‘female’ Calendar. Sarah Moon, former models that became photographer, is in fact the first woman called by Pirelli to shoot the calendar. Sarah does not follow a specific theme, if not that of the waiting between women: waiting for rich customers of a deluxe ‘maison’, or a whorehouse, that recalls the impressionist atmosphere of a period between the beginning of the last century and the Twenties.

The photographer
Sarah Moon began her career on the other side of the lens, as a model, but she considered that profession boring, and rapidly established herself as a photographer and director. Moon’s photographic style reminds one of painting, though she considers photography and painting to be entirely different arts. Moon has been defined as an “impressionist photographer” because of the images she produces by her use of soft, diffused light, and grainy, 35 mm film. She has worked for such personalities as Woolmark and Cacharel. Moon has won numerous awards for her photography and films. Her work is part of the collections of the National Library of Paris and the International Museum of Photography in New York.