Johannesburg - South African model Thando Hopa is featured in the 2018 Pirelli Calendar and attended the fashionable launch of the glamourous yearly tradition.
Wearing a glamorous black Gert-Johan Coetzee gown, Thando made a powerful statement on stage at the gala that marked the unveiling of the calendar.
The glitzy gathering was held in the Hammerstein Ballroom at the Manhattan Centre in New York on Friday night.
Here's what Thando had to say at the momentous occasion:
“I’ve always tried to do projects that present positive narratives for people who are underrepresented, like me, and the calendar really managed this,” she said. “Alice in Wonderland speaks of possibilities, and this interpretation said that Alice could be anybody, and for underrepresented people possibilities and dreams are important because when you are underrepresented you face the danger of conforming to stereotypes because that is all you see. This calendar says, No, it doesn’t have to be that way.”
This elicited loud applause from the audience that included her co-stars Naomi Campbell, Sean Diddy Combs and the British photographer, Tim Walker who masterminded the project over an elaborate four-day shoot in London in May.
The evening’s events also included the showing of the Making Of video, a magical behind-the-scenes look at the creation of the 2018 calendar and how Tim Walker brought his vision to life.
Watch that video here:
Thando’s contribution to this landmark project is significant; not only did she get the last word in the video, but the calendar itself, which includes four photographs of Thando as the Princess of Hearts, is closed by her words. According to Thando’s publicist Melinda Shaw, Walker was so moved by Thando’s message of inclusion and representation that he asked her to write the final words which were printed on the last page of the lushly rich, large-format calendar.
It reads, “I recently watched an old home movie where we were dancing and laughing together as a family. Out in the world I was always uncertain how people would react to me, but that video captured belonging, oneness and love - who we were at that moment. In the telling of the first black Alice in Wonderland, Pirelli Calendar 2018 consolidates and captures so many representations of “black” into one magical narrative. It captures people working together to weave a bigger tale than the girl who tumbled down a rabbit hole. Together our story says there’s no image monopoly in imagination or dreams; everyone deserves to be represented outside the stereotypes that limit our possibilities. When people flip through the Pirelli archives in future, I hope they see us for who we were and what we represented in this moment of our lives”, said Thando.
Hopa was part of an all-black cast in this 45th edition of the calendar, which has always been shot by big-name photographers. Says Shaw, “It is a proud moment indeed for Thando as first black South African ever to feature in this legendary annual project, especially in this landmark edition that tells a classic story to a new generation in such an empowering way.”