Debra Bourne, Erin O’Connor and Caryn Franklin. Photography Kayt Jones.
This innitiative kick-started in May 2009, when Susan Ringwood, the Chief Executive of the eating disorders charity Beat, asked, “Was it possible to show fashion on a range of inspiring bodies?”
Founders Caryn Franklin, Debra Bourne and Erin O’Connor put their Stephen Jones thinking caps on and came up with an initiative: to showcase the work of 8 cutting-edge designers on a 8 professional models aged between 18-65 and size 8-16, as a celebration of individuality and diversity.
First, it needed a name. All Walks Beyond the Catwalk was conceived; and to be a success with the fashion press, not just the buyers, the event had to happen from the heart of London Fashion Week. Caryn, Erin and Debra also knew they needed to appeal to the top names in the industry to help pull it off.
With London Development Agency funding and British Fashion Council endorsement, Caryn, a fashion commentator and broadcaster, Debra, a fashion consultant and former PR director at Lynne Franks, and Erin, the model and founder of the Model Sanctuary, visualised a project that utilised fashion photography at a high-profile salon style presentation to present each designer’s creations.
Next, the hard bit. With just 12 weeks to go, they recruited their super-team: eight press-worthy designers, a casting agent, eight models, a top photographer, make-up artists, hairdressers, a leading style magazine, show producers, stylists, event organisers, a film director, a camera operator, a sound recordist, two film editors, several graphic designers, a website designer, printers, digital printers, set builders, a media sponsor, funding sponsors, another top photographer, documentary photographers, documentary film-makers, a fashion PR and two spectacular production assistants who, fresh out of college, threw themselves into this project full-time – thank you Katy Lubin and Michael Williamson.
All Walks Beyond the Catwalk was born and the co founders could not have anticipated the huge response from industry, educators and ordinary women. What we thought might be small voice to challenge the fashion industry’s pre-occupation with a limited and unachievable body ideal soon turned into a much bigger thing!
We have been full-time ever since with the founders and their team fitting their professional lives round the running if this growing organisation. Everyone works in a voluntary capacity.
The All Walks mission is simple: to expand upon the imagery coming out of our industry and mirror a more realistic range of women, in age, size, race and appearance than fashion standards currently offer. As you navigate this site you will see lots of campaigns, collaborations and projects that Caryn, Debra Erin and their team have since actioned.
All Walks couldn’t have happened without the support of all those who donate their time and expertise for free. The founders would like to thank them all.
We would particularly like to express our appreciation to all our creatives whose passion and energy have contributed in bringing our ideas to life, and who have waived their fees or supported in other ways. A special thank you to the following individuals who made a difference.
Michelle Knox Brown
Hansel Lee Symons
Alex Ford Robertson