Most of us have a better chance of finding the Ark of the Covenant than getting on the mailing list for the annual Pirelli Calendar. Sure, they, like everything else, can be found on eBay, but there's nothing special about paying for one. Each year the calendar is sent to VIPs whose relationship with Pirelli warrants the gifting of such exclusive swag, and each year a different theme ties the photos together. Usually taken by the world's top photographers, the images generally incorporate an exotic locale, beautiful women and plenty of skin, which is part of the whole Pirelli Calendar mystique. It's not a girlie calendar, it's art. While that may well be a valid argument, most people will likely wink back at you and say they're sure you read Playboy for the articles, too.
The 2008 edition takes a slightly different direction than many of its predecessors, however. Dubbed "Pearls of the Orient," exposed skin is pretty much kept to a minimum, and there is no outright nudity at all. Instead, photographer Patrick Demarchelier uses Shanghai as a backdrop to show off his models' (including actress Maggie Cheung, shown) innate beauty and some impressive costuming in a series of portraits. You can check out all the photos at the Pirelli Calendar website, which also lets you turn back the clock and peruse editions from decades past (be advised: some are clearly NSFW). And you don't need to be a VIP, either. The website's open to all.

[Source: Pirelli]

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