Rear of the Year 2011 – All Walks beyond the Catwalk?

Carol Vorderman

This years female and male winners were Carol Vorderman (beautiful in mind and spirit as well as her body and specifically bottom!) and Anton du Beke. It made me wonder what the judging criteria was for most beautiful rear!

Valerie Pain

I visited the Rear of the Year Competition website a rather dull and uninspiring site sponsored by a brand of Jeans I have never heard of, Wizard, to see if there was any explanation. The competition itself is open to the public – there is no ‘connoisseurs of derrière’ panel painstakingly working their way through photos and photos of posteriors of varying degrees of celebrity – we simply nominate our favourite rear – and an annual count is taken for the year-end rear-end.

There is a section on their website ‘Erogenous Zone’ which explains the thinking behind the bootylicious event giving a potted history of the buttock from the 19th century to the present day.

This made me think of the All Walks beyond the Catwalk campaign which is set up to widen the body-shapes we see up and down the fashion runways. In the words of the founders ‘We love fashion in all shapes and sizes. Like the multitude of silhouettes and garments our industry both produces and promotes, beauty is also individual. It’s not restricted by race, shape, age or size’.

At least the Rear of the Year this year chimed with this, the winners being age 50 and 44 respectively. The admirable aims of the All Walks campaign includes a wish for bigger and older models on the runway – 25 is surely too young to be over the hill! The campaign is endorsed by the British Fashion Council and has the involvement of both designers and models. A wide and impressive selection of designers too – Williamson, McCartney, Westwood, Temperley, Chalayan – the list goes on.

Older models represented include Daphne Self and Valerie Pain and 12+ size include Katie Parsons and Kirsty McClennan.


Their campaign has been publicised with numerous events at London Fashion Weeks and photographed for an exhibitition at the National Portrait Gallery in Spring of this year.

One of the founders was Erin O’Connor (featured in my Divine Hats post yesterday) along with Debra Bourne and Caryn Franklin.

The winners of Rear of the Year this year and in previous years demonstrate at least that there is an appetite among the public for a more diverse body-shape than that usually seen on our fashion catwalks and that the All Walks beyond the Catwalk campaign should be one that has wide spread support in their fashion industry audience too.

In the age of How to Look Good Naked this surely must be an idea whose time has come.

Divine hattery at the Investec Derby Festival 2011

When did we stop wearing hats? Other than for special occasions like weddings or horse-racing festivals like the Grand National and the Derby?

Every day should be a Ladies Day! And men too – and not ugly or indifferent base-ball caps but a Fedora or a Homburg – in the style of Humphrey Bogart or Frank Sinatra – but men’s hats are never a lick on women’s hats. Stylish they can be but usually straight-forwardly so and copies of each other – variation on a Stetson theme. Whereas women’s hats are endlessly diverse and creative.

Witness the Investec Derby Festival on the Epsom Downs this year – men were hatted up too but in standard if showy black top-hat affairs whereas the women were hatted in every shape colour and fabric.

Most clearly contrasted between Kate and William themselves, her in an elegant structural beret if of dowdy colour he in a black top hat.

Super-model Erin O’Connor is the current face of the Investec Derby and has certainly been seen sporting a hat before such as this worn at London Fashion Week 2009 a successful mixture of the modern and traditional. As well as an official face the Derby even has an official designer in Felicity Brown and an official milliner in Louis Mariette. All three also judged the best Style on the Downs – and yes there was some horse-racing going on too!

red and black hatThe winner, Inverness Milliner Mimi Theobald,  (hats off – sorry! – for promoting her business in this way) sported a striking feather creation but it was another yellow ensemble – pictured above – I most favoured with the hat bursting into its own life upon her head offsetting the yellow dress – though perhaps yellow heels were called for too, to go the whole way and complete the sunburst?

I also loved this black and red heady ensemble – an ostentatious statement, quite probably hot heavy and impractical – a certain suffering for fashion has to be called for!

A hat does not exist of itself though rather it offsets and augments dress shoes and clutch.

So let it not take a festival to sport a hat – wear them with knowing nonchalance on the high street, in the work-place, in the home – anywhere indeed that you like!