RuPaul Is the Queen, Naomi a Beheader: Pirelli’s 2018 Calendar Envisions an All-Black Alice in Wonderland

Sean Combs and Naomi Campbell (Tim Walker/Pirelli)
Sean Combs and Naomi Campbell (Tim Walker/Pirelli)

Pirelli, the Milan-based tire company, has taken an enduring, mystical story of Alice in Wonderland and blackened it up for its annual calendar. The results? Stunning.

In its 45th iteration, the Pirelli annual calendar features an all-black cast to represent photographer Tim Walker’s vision of the Lewis Carroll classic. Styled by British Vogue Editor Edward Enninful, everybody who is anybody snaps across the pages, with 18 black stars from fashion, cinema, music and art.

British Vogue runs down the talent:

Adwoa Aboah is Tweedledee; Naomi Campbell and Sean Combs are The Royal Beheaders; Slick Woods is The Madhatter; Lupita Nyong’o is The Dormouse; Whoopi Goldberg is The Royal Duchess; Djimon Hounsou is The King of Hearts; RuPaul is The Queen of Hearts; Adut Akech is The Queen of Diamonds; Alpha Dia is the Five-Of-Hearts-Playing-Card Gardener; King Owusu is the Two-Of-Hearts-Playing-Card Gardener; Lil Yachty is The Queen’s Guard; Thando Hopa is The Princess of Hearts; Wilson Oryema is the Seven-Of-Hearts-Playing-Card Gardener; Zoe Bedeaux is The Caterpillar; Sasha Lane is The Mad March Hare; and Duckie Thot is Alice.


“I felt like this was a chance for us to exist as people in society,” Djimon Hounsou said to GQ. Hounsou was cast as the King of Hearts alongside RuPaul as a formidable Queen of Hearts. “This story makes us feel like we’re integrated for the first time. Growing up, my son never saw a black superhero. So one day he said to me, ‘I wish I was white so I could climb walls like Spider-Man.’ That was shocking for me to hear. We ought to be ashamed of ourselves, that black folk don’t exist in our stories.”

Supermodel Naomi Campbell, who appears as the Royal Beheader alongside her boy Sean “Diddy” Combs (who apparently has Alice In Wonderland quotes tattooed on his inner bicep), called this week “iconic” for diversity within the fashion industry.

“With the new Vogue at the beginning of the week and Pirelli at the end of the week, out of my 31 years as a model,” Campbell said, according to GQ, “this has been the most phenomenal moment for diversity [in fashion].”


Diddy added: “We were born kings and queens. These images should have been shown a long time ago.”

Ms. Bronner Helm is the Senior Editorial Director at Colorlines. Mouthy Black Girl. Rosalynn Carter Mental Health Fellow. Shea Butter Feminist. Virgo Sun, Aries Moon.

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Those photos are stunning. The way they play with color, angle, fantasy and’s brilliant. Now I want an actual movie made featuring all of these people.