In an interview with Frockwriter, Anja Rubik revealed that although the Pirelli Calendar is a dream job for most models, she turned down the opportunity to do the 2009 calendar because it was shot by Terry Richardson. Not because she was afraid of Richardson — Rubik said he never made her feel uncomfortable on the handful of occasions they’d worked together before (like with that surprisingly tasteful set of ads for Mango). What she was really concerned about was what the iconic calendar might look like after being filtered through his porny, button-pushing vision. But she was certain that he was a great photographer who would make a great calendar. Yes. We are just as confused as you are.
When Frockwriter asked Rubik on New Year’s Day what her best moments in 2010 were, she answered as expected: getting engaged to male model Sasha Knezevic, walking in Tom Ford‘s secret show, and doing Karl Lagerfeld’s Pirelli calendar. Herein, Rubik explains the distinction between Lagerfeld and Richardson, and explores some contradictory feelings she has about Richardson.
… Doing the Pirelli was also incredible, because it was always my dream to take part in this calendar. It’s like the most famous calendar in the world, it’s such a huge honour. And the best people shot for it and the best girls were in it. So that was really great. And I was actually supposed to do the Terry Richardson one but I was a little bit afraid, because I never undressed, I was never shot actually nude before. Although I love Terry and I worked with him a lot for French Vogue and other editorials, but I was a little bit afraid of his Pirelli.
FW: So just to clarify this: you actually turned down the Pirelli calendar last year?
AR: Yes I did.
FW: That’s interesting. Have many models turned it down before do you think?
AR: I don’t know. You’d never know, because you deal with your agent, you don’t really know about other girls. I did. I just knew it would be uncomfortable for me and maybe for him, because I wouldn’t feel right in the moment.
FW: Obviously there has been a lot of controversy over Terry Richardson’s modus operandi of late.
AR: Yeah I know, but to be honest I know him, I’ve shot with him many times. And I think he’s great. I never felt uncomfortable, I never thought he pushed me into anything. I think if a girl, like, leaves her green light that she’s open to doing different things, he maybe pushes the boundaries. And if he knows how the girl is. Like I don’t get all these allegations. I mean I worked with him over, I don’t know, 15 times and I never felt awkward…..that I felt I had to do something.
FW: So why turn down a “dream” opportunity to do the Pirelli calendar just because he was shooting it?
AR: Only because I know he would push it a little bit more, in a way that would be very naked and I know that I wouldn’t go there probably. So that’s why it was stupid to accept the challenge because I thought I wouldn’t be capable. And you think…how it’s going to come out, because he has a different kind of take of that, a little bit more on the edge of, you know, I don’t want to say vulgar but on the very, very slight edge of it. There were supposed to be a lot of girls and he likes to shoot a lot of girls with girls and I just didn’t think I’d feel comfortable, that’s why.
We can understand not feeling comfortable — Richardson can be a creep when he wants to be. And he always seems to want to be. Always. And while we get that Rubik was probably just trying to be frank while avoiding saying something untoward about a beloved fashion photographer on the record, she went about it pretty clumsily. After all, skill and weirdness aren’t mutually exclusive, especially in artists. If Rubik had said, “He’s a great photographer, I just didn’t want to be naked in front of him” and left it at that, it wouldn’t be a big deal.