Why Gigi Hadid "Terrified" the Pirelli Calendar Photographer
The 2019 Pirelli calendar, shot by iconic fashion photographer Albert Watson, features Gigi Hadid and designer Alexander Wang in the one shoot that Watson was most "terrified" of. But before we get there, you should know that Gigi and Alexander are not the only ones included in the "Dreaming" sequence, which focuses on four fictional female characters and captures each woman's aspirations.
Julia Garner plays a young photographer, Misty Copeland a future dancer, Laetitia Casta a painter, and Gigi a newly single socialite who spends time with her friend and confidant, aka Alexander. When I sat down to talk to Albert and Alexander, who have worked together before on Alexander's own brand campaign, the duo had nothing but nice things to say about each other and the talented Gigi, but Albert made one thing clear: out of all the portraits, this one was the most daunting.
"I was terrified [of Gigi's] image because I just didn't want this calendar to be a fashion book thing. Gigi is a well-known fashion model, and I didn't want to do 10 to 12 shots of fashion pictures of Gigi. I needed somebody else to add some weight," he told me.
As you look through the resulting story, which was shot in New York in "a glass tower," or so it's described, you'll probably agree that Alexander successfully added weight to the narrative in such a way that you won't feel like you're skimming through a magazine editorial. Ahead, see the Pirelli photos of Gigi and Alexander, then check out some behind-the-scenes snaps, lensed by Alessandro Scotti, of the pair working with Albert. Plus, read up on what it was like to bring this calendar to life and find out why Alexander respects Gigi as the voice of our generation.
Posing Alongside Gigi Is Like "Entering Her Kingdom"
"Obviously, I had known Gigi for a while. We've never actually personally worked on a project like this together. This is kind of like walking into her kingdom, where she knows what she's doing, and, you know, for me to be on the other side of the camera — not that it's my first time, but it's always definitely a different environment than what I'm used to. But I had just finished shooting my campaign with Albert a few weeks prior to this. So we really had built an incredible trust level. I knew going into this I was in good hands, and in that sense, I really trusted the process. I was of course incredibly humble to be a part of an amazing project that was doing something so different for the first time." — Alexander Wang
Albert Was "Terrified" of Gigi's Image
"I was terrified the result would be too fashion. I did some pictures that are close, but I tried to put something else into the picture. Like the one with the shadows was meant to be a little touch of film noir, like an old Hitchcock shot. I said to her the minute she arrived, 'Listen, try not to pose today. If you are going to sit down, then sit down. If you are having a drink at the bar with Alex, then you sit and have a drink in the bar with Alex. You do not sit at the edge of your chair and lean forward.' Because I researched all the pictures she did, and I said, 'You are a tremendous model. Therefore, I need something from you, but it's about portraiture. Let's make it about the photography, rather than a fashion picture.' At the worst, it was going to be 49 percent fashion and never 51 percent." — Albert Watson
Alexander and Gigi Are Supposed to Be Confidants, Not Boyfriend and Girlfriend
"The biggest challenge for me is that Alex looks better than anybody else on the camera. What was important to me was to make sure that I was doing not beauty shots of Alex, but portraits. He has talent, and that's why I used him. There are a lot of very good-looking men; therefore, just to have a good-looking man next to Gigi makes no sense. I needed somebody that had persona and had weight and had done something . . . Gigi was meant to be experiencing angst and problems in her life, and Alex formed her confidant. The only person she really trusted was Alex. Therefore, they were not obviously boyfriend and girlfriend, but they were just absolutely friends. There was just something about the physicality of both of them, and it just added a weight. If I used a male model, it would not have worked." — Albert
Gigi Is the Voice of Our Generation
"Prior to this project, I hadn't really worked with Gigi one on one, but I've done more stuff with [her sister] Bella. But knowing her socially, less through work and more in terms of who she represents in her generation and how outspoken — in a positive way — she is. Gigi really speaks her mind, defends herself, and puts herself out there. It requires a lot of bravery. In that sense, I've really respected her so much and her voice. It's important for people like her to speak up and to stand for something." — Alexander
A Message For the 2019 Woman
"There has never been a better time to be yourself and to stand up for what you believe in and speak your mind." — Alexander
"Keep at it!" — Albert