The pinup calendar is such a low-tech relic from the pre-smartphone generation it’s a wonder anyone still makes them — or buys them. Are there really that many college dorm rooms and greasy mechanics’ garages out there?
Maybe it’s their enduring retro appeal, or their sheer kitschy-ness, that makes them a perennial favorite as a (sometimes ironic) holiday gift. Whatever the reason, girlie calendars are still going strong and don’t seem to have much of an equivalent in the world of iPhone apps and ubiquitous online skin.
These days, pinup calendars have become a dependable source of income for busty models hoping to build a brand name and charities looking for an attention-grabbing promotion. But they’re more than that, too.
An artfully conceived calendar can become a powerful promotional tool for a lingerie label — just ask Aubade — and can even stand alone as a cultural touchstone — just ask Pirelli.
With that in mind, we’ve assembled a baker’s dozen of some of the most amusing, artistic and just plain sexy calendars available for 2012. Some ape the vintage style of original post-war era pinup calendars, while others are decidedly more modern.
We’ve skipped the obvious (Sports Illustrated), the perennial retreads (Playboy, Dita, Bettie) and ones we’ve already written about (Secrets In Lace, Zombies) in favor of some of more creative new projects out there.
The Great Britain women’s team has an unfair advantage heading into next summer’s Olympics: they’ve got lingerie designer par excellence Nichole De Carle on their side. That’s synchronized swimmer Jenna Randall above, posing in NDC’s awesome diamond knickers set, as part of a charity calendar to support the medical research organization Wellbeing of Women. 10 UK Olympic hopefuls posed for the calendar, which you can buy from Nichole De Carle’s webshop.
The 2012 edition of this timeless series is a perfect gift for aviation buffs. Inspired by the wartime nose art that pilots added to their bombers and fighter planes, the Warbirds series manages to seem fresh each year. Buy it here, and check out the rest of their aviation memorabilia.
Sorry Pirelli, but THE must-have fashion calendar for 2012 is this gem from German Vogue in partnership with Swarovski Elements. The magazine’s 2012 Horoscope calendar, shot by Lado Alexi, is also one of 2011′s greatest fashion editorial shoots, with each month featuring models representing zodiac signs while wearing embellished garments and undergarments that illustrate their theme. It’s exceptional, but since it came with the current issue of Vogue Germany only, it may be hard to find. You can see the entire series here.
Hard to believe, but this perennial favorite of the UK lads’ mags has been putting out an annual swimsuit-lingerie calendar for almost 10 years. Good thing too, because we haven’t heard a lot from Kelly since she ditched modeling for an “acting” career (remember Piranha?) more than a year ago. Find her 2012 calendar here.
British luxury lingerie label Leurre uses an arty, super-sexy calendar as a way of introducing their 2012 collection. It’s very well done, with more than a passing resemblance to the annual black-and-white calendar from Aubade, which is always a treasured collectible. The Leurre calendar was shot by London studio The Round Peg, and you can buy it here for £10.
This Portland, Oregon-based collective of models, artists and performers look like they have a whale of a time doing campy stage shows and photoshoots. You can check out their 2012 classic pinup-style calendar here.
The well-known Italian fashion photographer produced the 2012 Mercedes Benz calendar as well as a very inventive Burlesque calendar shown here. We’re not sure where to buy it, but you can at least see the rest of photos on his website.
This sexy French label is literally building its brand around super-spokesmodel Bar Refaeli, who now has her own collection with the company. And good news: Passionata’s 2012 calendar, with 12 classically sunny shots of Bar, will be available for free download on their website in January. (Look under the “Goodies” section.)
These annual rustic fantasy shoots have turned into quite a cash cow (sorry!) for Magic Fox Media, which also produces the German Farm Girls calendar (below) and a companion German Farm Boys pinup set. Save mega-Euros if you buy all three here.
Real women, real bikes, real outfits. This unique project invited female cyclists from the Chicago area to apply for a spot in the 2012 Thought You Knew Pinup Calendar, which supports a community outreach project to get more women cycling (it’s called The Monthly Cycle … get it?). Learn more and see the entire calendar here.
This annual bestseller from UK’s equestrian set actually raises money for air ambulance services. All the models are amateurs, but there’s nothing amateurish about this very cool project, which you can explore here. The bottom photo above is from a companion project, the Country Unclothed calendar, which was included with The Field magazine.
Pinups For Heroes was set up two years ago to raise money for the Help For Heroes charity, which supports UK soldiers and their families. The 2012 calendar is their third, and it drew more than 300 applicants from would-be models keen to support the cause. Learn more here.
And finally, because we DO get asked about this, a sad update on the annual Cofani Funebri calendar that we wrote about last year. You might recall the Italian coffin-maker created both a scandal and a marketing coup with its 2011 sex-and-death calendar. Cofani DID produce a 2012 edition (that’s a rare image from it above), but it was quickly banned by Italian authorities, who obviously don’t want the rest of us believing that Italians think about sex ALL the time.
If you grabbed one before it was yanked, you probably have an E-Bay bonanza on your hands. Otherwise, you might still be able to get a non-branded version of the calendar from photographer Maurizio Matteucci, who is selling it here. Or you can check out this lame alternative from the Polish coffin-maker Lindner, which actually started this bizarre trend.