People

Stylist’s Women of 2011

In what has been an incredibly eventful year, women have been playing their part politically, culturally and creatively. We celebrate the women who made a difference in 2011.

Click on any of the images below to launch the Women of the Year gallery

Image credit: REX Features

Words: Dipal Acharya

Words by Dipal Acharya

  • Beyoncé

    2011 has been a landmark year for Beyoncé - from releasing hit after hit from the album 4 and knockout Glastonbury performance, to the launch of her fashion label House of Dereon in the UK and the announcement that she is expecting her first baby

  • Angela Merkel

    One half of 'Merozy', Germany's first female Chancellor hit headlines for her bold navigation through the Eurozone crisis this year alongside French President Nicolas Sarkozy - and landed herself at number four on Forbes Magazine's list of the world's most powerful people

  • Sarah Burton

    Now a household name, Sarah Burton cemented her role as fashion royalty after designing the Duchess of Cambridge's wedding dress and creating standout collections as Creative Director for fashion label Alexander McQueen

  • Rebecca Black

    Rebecca Black shot to fame in Spring 2011 , after her heavily autotuned single 'Friday' was leaked to the media. The fourteen year-old became an overnight YouTube sensation and even made a cameo in Katy Perry's video for the single 'Last Friday Night'

  • Miranda Hart

    The stand-up comedienne was finally recognised for her talents this year, after picking up three British Comedy Awards and being nominated for a BAFTA for her sitcom Miranda. Hart has been commissioned for a third series by the BBC this year

  • Sakineh Ashtiani

    After mounting international pressure, Sakineh Ashtiani has become the face of the ongoing human rights campaign to end death by stoning in Iran. After being convicted and imprisoned for reportedly committing adultery, Ashtiani's sentence was suspended in January 2011. Iranian authorities announced in December 2011 that they would proceed with the execution, via hanging

  • Louise Mensch

    After rocketing to fame as a chick-lit author, Louise Mensch (née Bagshawe) proved that she was also a formidable politician this year after sitting on the panel of the Culture, Media and Sport committee that grilled the Murdochs over the phone-hacking scandal

  • Kate Middleton

    Kate Middleton may have become the Duchess of Cambridge in April but the nation's obsession with her continues to snowball. Whether it's her penchant for the high street (Reiss alone reported a doubling of profits thanks to the 'Middleton' effect) or perfectly coiffed locks, Kate could do no wrong in 2011

  • Tracey Emin

    She staged a sell-out retrospective at the Hayward Gallery, has one of her pieces hanging in Number 10, caught up with the Queen in Margate and designed posters for the upcoming Olympic and Paralympic games in London. Oh and she was made the Royal Academy's Professor of Drawing in November. Not a bad year at all for Ms Emin we suppose

  • Amy Winehouse

    Her life may have provided fodder to the tabloids for years, but it was after the shock announcement of her death that Amy Winehouse's contribution to the music industry was fully appreciated. Tributes poured in for the five-time Grammy winner and her second album Back to Black immediately shot back to the top of the iTunes chart. A post-humous album, Lioness: Hidden Treasures followed suit in December 2011

  • Jane Austen

    Austen's fans rejoiced this year, as the unfinished manuscript of the lost novel The Watsons was bought by the Bodleian Library in Oxford with financial support from the National Heritage Memorial Fund. The manuscript was purchased for a heady £993,250 from Sotheby's

  • Lady Gaga

    She may have had the second highest-grossing concert tour of the year and continues to fascinate with her madcap outfits - but it is for her philanthropic work that Gaga will be best remembered in 2011. With high-profile advocacy work for HIV/AIDS charities and spearheading anti-bullying legislation, Gaga also established her Born This Way Foundation - a non profit organisation focusing on youth empowerment

  • Danica May Camacho

    Born in the Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital in the Philippines, Danica May Camacho was named by the UN as the symbolic 7 billionth person born to mark the world's population milestone

  • Camila Batmanghelidjh

    The colourful founder of the charity Kids Company was one of the most vocal opponents in February 2011 that warned of youth disillusionment following the Coalition Goverment's savage cuts. Following the London Riots in August, Batmanghelidjh publicly condemned the police response to the civil unrest

  • Katie Piper

    After a brutal acid attack in 2008, Katie Piper has gone on to become one the nation's most inspiring women. Following extensive surgery, Piper went on to front Channel 4 documentary My Beautiful Friends, which won the 'Best Documentary Programme' gong at the Broadcast awards in February

  • Jill Abramson

    In September 2011, formidable journalist Jill Abramson became the first woman to edit The New York Times in the paper's 160 year-history

  • Victoria Beckham

    The former Spice Girl finally silenced her critics with another stellar collection at New York fashion week, the creation of a diffusion line (Victoria by Victoria Beckham), giving birth to her fourth child Harper Seven and picking up the 'Designer Brand of the year' award at this year's British Fashion Awards. Is there anything this lady can't do?

  • Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkul Karman

    Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkul Karman (pictured opposite) were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in October this year for their non-violent campaign for the safety of women and for women’s rights. The trio come from diverse backgrounds, with Sirleaf being Africa’s first democratically elected female president, Gbowee a vocal advocate for women's rights in Liberia and Karman an tireless campaigner for democracy in Yemen

  • Amanda Knox

    In what was to be one of the most sensational trials of the year, 25 year-old Amanda Knox was acquitted of the murder of British student Meredith Kercher. Knox had already served three years of her original 26-year sentence and shortly after returned to her family home in Seattle

  • Julia Donaldson

    Julia Donaldson, acclaimed author of children's book The Gruffalo, was named as the new children's laureate in June 2011. Having written over 120 books, Donaldson said: ""With my background in plays and song-writing, I am particularly keen to develop projects which link books with drama and music."

  • Elizabeth Taylor

    As one of Hollywood's most iconic stars, Elizabeth Taylor died in March 2011 of heart failure at the age of 79. The Cleopatra star was best known for her tumultuous romance with Richard Burton and extensive jewellery collection. A post-humous auction of her finery in New York in December fetched over $116m

  • Yingluck Shinawatra

    Following a coup in 2006 that ousted her brother from power, Yingluck Shinawatra became Thailand's first ever female Prime Minister. Aged 44, she is also the youngest Prime Minister to hold the position for over 60 years

  • Military Wives

    Continuing the trend set by Rage Against the Machine last year, the Military Wives choir fended off another X-Factor Christmas number one with their single Wherever You Are. Created by The Choir star Gareth Malone, the track was the fastest selling single in six years

  • Sally Bercow

    Sally Bercow, better known as the wife of the Speaker of the House of Commons, has been forging her own path in the media this year. From a controversial photoshoot with ES Magazine (posing with nothing but a blanket on) to a brief stint in the celebrity Big Brother house, Bercow eschewed convention to become one of the most outspoken political spouses of the year

  • Florence Welch

    Topping the success of her debut album Lungs, Florence Welch released her second effort Ceremonials to critical acclaim in October 2011. In her signature ethereal style, the album delivered hits that include 'Only if for a night' and 'Shake it out'. The flame-haired singer also became a fashion heavyweight, singing at the Chanel Spring/Summer 2012 show shrouded in an Oyster shell as well as championing McQueen on the red carpet. She was also given the honour of opening the famous Harrods sale on Boxing Day and Stylist got an exclusive interview with the lady herself!

  • Rushanara Ali

    Having to follow in the footsteps of George Galloway as MP for Bethnal Green and Bow could have been tough, but Bangladeshi Rushanara Ali has proved herself to be one of Parliament's Bright Young Things. Ali is also one of the UK's first female Muslim MPs

  • PJ Harvey

    PJ Harvey made musical history this year, as the only artist to have ever won the Mercury Music Prize twice - once in 2001 and then in 2011 for her album Let England Shake

  • Natalie Portman

    A heavily-pregnant Natalie Portman collected the 'Best Actress' award at this year's Academy Awards for her turning in psychological thriller Black Swan. Despite being the face of Dior's Miss Cherie fragrance, Portman elected to wear Rodarte following John Galliano's anti-semetic outburst earlier in the year. The Harvard-educated actress also welcomed her first child, Aleph, in June with partner Benjamin Millepied

  • Jemima Khan

    Not keen to be a mere society girl, Jemima Khan became a vocal human rights campaigner on the media circuit this year, offering to post bail Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and guest-editting a highly successful issue of The New Statesman

  • Jessica Ennis

    Jessica Ennis is set to be one Team GB's star athletes at London 2012. Despite failing to retain her heptathlon title at this year's world championships, Ennis has been fiercely training - both psychologically and physically - for next year's game. Definitely one to watch

  • Iris Apfel

    As one of New York's preeminent fashion icons, Iris Apfel proved that age ain't nothing but a number after fronting a sigature make-up line for MAC cosmetics. The self-labeled 'geriatric starlet' is also working on an extensive gallery project that will showcase her enviable wardrobe, household objects and eccentric accessories

  • Aung San Suu Kyi

    As Burma's most famous pro-democracy leader, the public enjoyed a renewed interest in Aung San Suu Kyi this year after she secretly recorded a lecture which was broadcast by the BBC for their Reith Lectures. Speaking of the hardship and resistance faced by her fellow activists, Kyi's relentless campaign against the Burmese Military Junta will also be immortalised this year on screen in The Lady, directed by Luc Besson and starring Michelle Yeoh who held an exclusive webchat with her fans on Stylist.co.uk

  • Tilda Swinton

    The mercurial actress hit headlines again this year for her role in We Need to Talk About Kevin, playing the fraught mother of a sociopath. Universally lauded as one of the finest performances of her career, there are already whispers of a potential Oscar win

  • Stella McCartney

    Her 'days of running off with Kate Moss' may be over, but when it comes to her career Stella McCartney seems indefatigable. After scooping up the 'Red Carpet Designer of the Year' at the British Fashion Awards, McCartney also announced that she will be staging a one-off presentation at next year's London Fashion Week as well as presenting a pop-up concept store at Selfridges and launching her Childrenswear line in 2012

  • Britney Spears

    2011 proved to be the comeback year for Brit, as she embarked on her Femme Fatale world tour, showing off her showgirl-inspired costumes, as well as getting engaged to long-term boyfriend Jason Trawick

  • Lauren Taylor

    Recently crowned the BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year 2011, this golfing sensation has enjoyed an historic year. In June, at the tender age of 16, she became the youngest ever winner of the Ladies' British Open Amateur Championship and her next move is to the US on a sports scholarship

  • Carey Mulligan

    In 2011 the British starlet starred alongside Ryan Gosling in the cool noir thriller 'Drive' and helped Michael Fassbender confront his sex addiction in the critically acclaimed 'Shame'. This was also the year she began filming a new film adaptation of The Great Gatsby directed by Baz Luhrmann, in which she will play the central character of Daisy Buchanan

  • Adele

    Adele appeared to have the Midas touch in 2011. Her second album, 21, went to the top of the charts on both sides of the Atlantic and many of its tracks became instant classics. She broke countless records and became the first living artist to have two top five hits in both the singles and album charts simultaneously since The Beatles

  • Meryl Streep

    Not content with a record breaking 16 Oscar nominations, Meryl Streep's unnervingly realistic depiction of Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady attracted huge speculation that a 17th nomination may be just around the corner. Her life's work was acknowledged by the award of a Kennedy Center Honour in December

  • Kate Winslet

    Despite a quiet year on the movie front, Winslet poured all her talent into the HBO mini-series 'Mildred Pierce'. She won an Emmy (to go with her Oscar and two BAFTAs) for her portrayal of the title character - a self-sacrificing mother during the Great Depression. Not content with this, she also proved an unlikely hero as she carried Richard Branson's elderly mother to safety after a blazing fire at his Caribbean holiday home

  • Rihanna

    This year the Bajan songstress proved that hard work and talent are a winning combination. She was the highest selling artist of 2011, released her sixth studio album 'Talk That Talk', which included mega-hits like 'We Found Love', and finished one world tour shortly before embarking on another. Suffice to say, there will be no stopping her in 2012

  • Emma Watson

    July 2011 finally saw the end of the Harry Potter franchise which has shaped Emma Watson's life for so many years. The child actor has now grown into a smart young woman who is balancing her acting, designing and modelling careers (she starred in My Week with Marilyn alongside Michelle Williams, created a collection for People Tree and modelled for Burberry) with studying for a degree

  • Miranda Kerr

    2011 was the year Miranda Kerr went from Supermodel to Super-mum. The Victoria's Secret model gave birth to her first child, a baby boy named Flynn, with husband Orlando Bloom whilst maintaining her position at the top of the modelling tree. Kerr was back in the day job within weeks of giving birth and looking better than ever

  • Rosie Huntington Whiteley

    Rosie Huntington-Whiteley's modelling career went from strength to strength in 2011 as she bagged one of the biggest campaigns of them all, becoming the face - and body - of Burberry's new fragrance, Burberry Body.

  • Blake Lively

    The Gossip Girl star has had an eventful year both on and off screen. When she wasn't celebrating the series' 100th episode or charming the fashion world (we hear Christian Louboutin and Karl Lagerfeld are close friends) the actress was putting her own spin on whirlwind romances - with both Leonardo DiCaprio and Ryan Reynolds

  • Nicki Minaj

    Nicki Minaj may have had to endure the froideur of a certain American Vogue editor during fashion week, but thePink Friday singer went from strength to strength with her music - winning Entertainment Weekly's Best Single of the Year award for 'Super Bass'

  • Kristen Stewart

    Kristen Stewart proved she was leagues away from her awkward character in the Twilight Saga series, as she lit up the red carpet in a a series of stunning outfits (pictured here wearing Balmain). The actress also continued filming the hotly anticipated film adaptation of Snow White, reinterpreting the character as less candy-cane and more kick-ass

  • Jessie J

    This Brit Academy alumnus proved that she could live up to the hype, by bagging a Brit award in February - a mere three months after her debut single was released. Despite breaking her leg in early 2011, Jessie J continued to perform asthe openign act for Katy Perry as well as doing her own set (replete with golden throne) at this year's Glastonbury

  • Grace Dent

    In July 2011 the Guardian columnist released her hotly anticipated fourth book, How to Leave Twitter: My Time as Queen of the Universe. To date, Dent has tweeted over 40,000 and has accrued 97,355 followers

  • Susie Bubble

    With the proliferation of fashion blogging, Susie Bubble has always been the front-runner. With her daily blogposts documenting her wacky outfits and promoting the most exciting design talent in the industry, Susie has become the blogger's blogger