The 2013 Pirelli Calendar launched in Rio this week, has broken new ground – not because of the audaciousness of its content, quite the opposite in fact, the headlines this year are because of the complete absence of nudity whatsoever.

The iconic photograph of Sharbat Gula, “Afghan Girl”, that originally appeared in National Geographic magazine. (Steve McCurry)

However for rubber fetishists, like you and I (or is it just me that fantasises about the tread patterns of performance tyres?), the 2013 edition also marks a watershed in Pirelli Calendars by its complete absence of tyres.

In fact the closest we get to those round black things that define the performance of the cars we drive, is the elasticated waste band on pregnant model Adriana Lima’s maternity trousers.

Isn’t it about time we had a second Pirelli Calendar released alongside the main one? One which flirts with our desire for tightly defined sipes, deep longitudinal ribs and soft sticky contact patches.

And if you ‘must’ include beautiful women, make sure they stand well back from the tyres, or better still, wrap the tyres around them as was done in the 2012 calendar.

Surely I can’t be alone in harbouring such frustrations?

The 2013 calendar was shot by photojournalist Steve McCurry, best known for his celebrated 1985 National Geographic cover image ‘Afghan Girl’, who describes it as “ personal tribute to the people who live in one of the most exciting cities I’ve had the privilege to photograph.”

The city he refers to is Rio de Janeiro, where “The Cal” was launched earlier this week amongst a group of warehouses in the port of the Cidade Maravilhosa.

McCurry, who only accepted Pirelli’s offer to take on the assignment on the condition he could do it his way, worked with Pirelli’s casting agent, Jennifer Starr in finding a group of models with the right mix of beauty and purpose.

“I thought ‘why don’t we find models who aren’t only gorgeous and beautiful but are also doing good things,'” said McCurry.

Each of the girls was selected because of their extensive charity work including Petra Nemcova, the Czech model who founded the Happy Hearts Fund in the wake of the 2004 tsunami, American environmental crusader Summer Rayne Oakes and Brazilian actress and child rights advocate Sonia Braga.

McCurry suggested that shooting the 11 women fully clothed allows the viewer to see them as fully formed people, with ideas and initiatives and projects, as opposed to straight-out sex objects.

  • Adriana Lima

    Adriana Lima is currently working with Bill Clinton’s global initiative programme in Haiti. She was heavily pregnant during the photo shoot and was deeply touched by a programme to expand the maternity programme at the Catholic hospital of Port Au Prince. In the near future the supermodel will use her status to raise money to cover the construction costs of a new maternity ward.

  • Sonia Braga

    Brazilian beauty Sonia Braga is a tireless advocate of children’s’ rights, especially their rights to a proper education. She was a co-founder in 1997 of The national hispanic Foundation for the Arts (nhFA) and provides industry workshops and a scholarship programme helping students at universities such as Harvard, Yale and Columbia find careers in the media and telecom industries.

  • Summer Rayne Oakes

    Summer Rayne Oakes is a graduate of Cornell university with degrees in environmental Science and entomology, she is the author of a bestselling style guide and co-founder of Source4Style, a B2B marketplace that connects designers directly to sustainable material suppliers around the globe.

As you can see, these women are far from the manikin-like models which have graced the Pirelli Calendar since its inception in 1964. Perhaps it really is turning a corner, moving away from its more seductive roots.

Kyleigh Kuhn, an American model who has long supported efforts to build playgrounds and schools in Afghanistan, praised the new, socially conscious Pirelli calendar. “This is where the rubber meets the road for peace,” she said, referring to the end goal of her work in Afghanistan. “It’s going to have a trickle-down effect for all our charities.” Photojournalist Steve McCurry doesn’t normally shoot fashion, but he does know women and has a talent for capturing their personalities. Still, it remains to be seen whether the calendar continues as such a socially aware publication, or whether Pirelli concede to our pleas and take the novel step to produce a calendar about tyres. Now that really would be ground breaking.