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London (AFP) - Topless women out, female luminaries in: the latest edition of the famously titillating Pirelli calendar presented in London by US photographer Annie Leibovitz has won praise for its feminist makeover.
The Huffington Post's UK edition called the images "inspiring" and "stunning", while the Daily Telegraph said the calendar had "swapped sex for substance".
"It might only be pinned up at some enlightened garages, but the Pirelli calendar has signalled a break with history," Adam Sherwin wrote in The Independent on Tuesday under the headline: "Pirelli calendar's sexism replaced by 'amazing women'".
"Beautiful, gross, strong, thin, fat, pretty, ugly, sexy, disgusting, flawless, woman. Thank you ," tweeted comedian Amy Schumer, one of the subjects of the black-and-white photo shoot.
The calendar presented on Monday features 12 "women of achievement" instead of the usual supermodels, including John Lennon's 82-year-old widow Yoko Ono, singer Patti Smith and tennis star Serena Williams.
"It shouldn't be such a big step but it is," Leibovitz said, calling the idea of photographing distinguished women a "departure" for the company.
Launched in 1964 as an annual giveaway for garages that sold Pirelli tyres, the main calender has evolved from the cheesy to the arty end of the erotica spectrum.
Its glossy celebration of feminine curves has become integral to a brand that, thanks also to its Formula One links, has been described by one analyst as the Prada of the world of burning rubber.
In an interview with AFP at the company's Milan headquarters earlier this year, Pirelli chief executive Marco Tronchetti had a reassuring message for fans of the annual collection of pictures of scantily-clad supermodels shot by leading photographers.
"It is the one thing Chinese, Italians and Russians can all agree on -- we'll never give it up," Tronchetti said.