The concept for an annual calendar produced by the Italian tyre manufacturer Pirelli was born in 1962, when its UK subsidiary attempted to rival the parent company's sophisticated grasp of strategic advertising. Stellar work at magazines including Town and Vogue earned Terence Donovan the commission to shoot the first calendar in 1963: the emphasis on including products in the images, however, gave way in later years to concentrating on portraits of accessible, attainable girls, in line with the aesthetic of London-based style imagery of the 'swinging' Sixties. Print numbers soared during the 1970s from 4,000 to 40,000 as the calendar hit the mainstream. Since then, this highly influential bench-mark of popular Western erotica has undergone several design overhauls and shifts in ideological focus.
Toning down its sexual content to avoid criticism from the burgeoning second-wave Feminist movement at the start of the 1970s, employing a woman photographer (Sarah Moon) in 1972 - crucially, the first to show naked breast - and banning studio photography in the mid-1990s, the Pirelli calendar has consistently attempted to lead contemporary formations of femininity. For 2004's calendar, photographer Nick Knight and art director Peter Saville shifted the focus from men's desires to those of women. From fourteen conversations with eminent women, Knight has constructed different narrative for each month based on their most intimate sexual fantasies. At the beginning of each month of 2004, SHOWstudio released an interactive online experience founded on Nick Knight's corresponding image for that month.
To tantalise further, Knight has refused to betray the womens' confidence, leaving us guessing at the author of each fantasy. We may not know whose is whose, however, but we do have their names: Björk, Catherine Deneuve, Tracey Emin, Marianne Faithfull, Heidi Fleiss, Emma Forrest, Courtney Love, Stella McCartney, Catherine Millet, Aimee Mullins, Isabella Rossellini, Emmanuelle Seigner, Liv Tyler and Elizabeth Wurtzel.