In short, it was a Facebook page showing pictures of what a woman was wearing each day. Nothing too exciting or earth shattering there given that the social media-sphere is saturated with ladies doing just that (me being one of them!), but Knickers Model’s Own was doing something very different to anything us ‘followers of fashion’ had seen before.
Caroline, whose mum died in October 2014, decided that she would wear Cancer Research UK (CRUK) charity shop finds EVERY day of 2015 to raise money for CRUK (but with the knickers always being her own, hence the name). The idea was borne from a moment of reflection on New Year’s Eve 2014 when Caroline left a dinner party early to have a ‘think’. The next day, January 1st 2015, Caroline put on her charity shop outfit and posted it on her KMO Facebook page.
Why CRUK charity and why second hand (#preloved) clothes? Well, Caroline’s mum used to volunteer in the CRUK charity shop in Harpenden before she died and given that it was cancer itself that took her, aged just 72, what better charity to raise funds for? The idea made perfect and wonderful sense.
Mr.B and I arrived at the venue, which looked amazing – mannequins wearing a selection of the stunning outfits Caroline had featured in her posts, an impressive KMO book display and beautiful regal-looking portraits of Caroline dotted around the room. There was champagne, red wine, canapes, a pre-vinyl, very dapper-looking DJ playing in the corner – it was, I’m telling you, a right proper book launch! Oh and there was Caroline of course, who was effortlessly working the room in a stunning pre-loved green dress, smiling and greeting everyone with a kiss and thanking them for being able to come to the event. She exudes warmth and a friendliness that makes you instantly want her to be your new best friend.
Then came Caroline’s speech, which started with the words ‘I haven’t prepared a speech’ which made me giggle - yep, she’s funny too. She recalls the time she told her friends about her Knickers Model’s Own idea. The reaction she got from them was the usual 'supportive but not particularly excited’ response as they were very used to Caroline having brilliant ideas that didn't always materialise. Caroline is a self-professed flitter which she blames on her creative streak.
But she said that during the year-long campaign she discovered attributes that she would never have applied to herself before with the most rewarding one being that she actually stuck at something! She proved to herself that she could do it - and we’re all so glad she did.
When speaking about her mum, and how she’d have loved to have been part of the evening, her voice cracked and the emotion was clear but she quickly pulled herself together and got on with the 'show'. Very much how I imagined the ‘dark’ days of the campaign were when she was mourning her mum but still managing to choose a stunning outfit, put her face on and smile down the lens - a true professional.
She thanked her husband, their children and the friends who had helped her on the days she was struggling. She spoke very highly of the unwavering support she received from CRUK and the kind words of her followers who commented on her posts and kept her focussed and strong throughout.
Now the book is finished and out there she said she has to keep pinching herself. And I can verify that it really is something to be very proud of. The picture on the front is taken by world famous photographer, Rankin - there are A-list contributors telling us why they love KMO, beautifully crafted clothing descriptions and style advice from Caroline and, of course, all the pictures from her year-long campaign captured and presented in what is a truly beautiful book - one that I will read and pore over, again and again.
She ended her speech by urging people to be creative and brave enough to try something new because we only live once. And of course she urged us all to shop preloved. Her tip - when donating your bags to the charity shop - stay and have a browse as you never know what you might find.
With speeches done, it was time to mingle.
Mr. B and I spoke with the event’s photographer (lovely guy and I can’t remember his name, sorry). He told us that Caroline makes his job easy as she has a knack of knowing where the camera is at all times and is always ready with a smile. Oh and he also pointed out to us that she has a symmetrical face, which I guess must mean that he can never capture a bad side because both sides are equally good.
I then talked to this lovely chap.
Funnily enough, I wrote to The One Show TWICE to ask them to take a look at this campaign and get Caroline on that sofa. She eventually did get onto the show but I don't think it had anything to do with my two little emails - more likely because news about this innovative campaign and amazing woman was spreading as fast as fashion wild fire.
Which is why I'm still slightly miffed when I speak to someone who has never heard of Caroline and KMO. They look at me as if I'm mad and say ‘Knickers what?!' I’m like ‘how can you NOT have heard of KMO? Where the feck have you been hiding?!’ So, for the KMO newbies - here's the link to the FB page – have a look. Then, with bank card handy, click on this link and buy yourself the book! You can then smile, safe in the knowledge that you have just donated £20 to CRUK and that you will soon be receiving a book that will blow your socks off and help kick cancer’s arse!
I’ll leave you with some more pictures from the evening and a question that’s on repeat in my head…What’s next for Knickers Model's Own?