IN PICTURES: Mullet champion of Europe crowned at French festival

Devotees of the mullet, the iconic and improbably resilient haircut of the 1980s, have a new hero after a Belgian man's short-to-long locks were deemed Europe's best at a festival in central France.

IN PICTURES: Mullet champion of Europe crowned at French festival
All photos: Guillaume Souvnant/AFP

Revered or ridiculed, the mullet – business in the front, party in the back – is more than a coiffure for the 500 people at the party Saturday in Cheniers, a village in central France.

“It’s a way of life, of being able to laugh at yourself,” said Hubert, who made the trip from Belgium, where the first unofficial European Mullet Championship was held two years ago.

Attendees flaunted their flair or lined up for cuts by professional stylists as the beer flowed, with organisers saying the crowd would have been bigger if not for Covid limits on public gatherings.

The title was won by Nicolas Vanderkelen (below) a Belgian truck driver who said he’s been rocking the mullet for 20 years.

And for the men at least, it seemed generally understood that mullets look best when associated with salient sideburns, a big-league beard, or at least a moustache.

The pandemic may have even given the mullet a boost, as people worldwide took advantage of lockdowns to try a style more often associated with America’s Deep South, or the sparkling extra-wide suits on pop stars of a certain era.

“Just for laughs, a friend of mine told another one, who was feeling depressed, that he looked like a mullethead — That’s how we came up with the idea of hosting an event,” said Johan Detour.

Around 100 people were vying for the hairstyle crown.

Winner Vanderkelen succeeded Gauthier Istin of France, who said he was happy to pass on the title – “But I put a few of my hairs in the trophy, I hope the next champion will do the same.”

“We don’t care about fashion, or if people look at us,” said Julian from behind his sunglasses, a beer in hand.

“No matter the colour of your skin, your gender, your clothes, your haircut, we want everyone to be seen the same way,” he said.

“And this is the culmination of all that – it’s mullet paradise!”

For French speakers, there is also video of the festival via le Parisien.

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French family defend naming their son Canard (duck)

A family from Perigord, the duck-farming region of south west France, have defended giving their baby boy the middle name of Canard after a wave of online mockery.

French family defend naming their son Canard (duck)
A family from the duck-farming region of south west France have defended giving their child the middle name of "Canard" Photo: Pascal Guyot/AFP

Baby Dyklan Bret was born in August in south west France, but his middle name only became public when civil servants in the area published a list of the ‘most unusual’ names registered in 2021.

Many people assumed that the name referred to Périgord’s reputation as the duck-farming capital of France, and the family were mocked on social media as “cas sociaux, alcooliques” (alcoholic social-work cases).

But in fact, the name has a very different origin, which the baby’s grandfather has shared with French TV channel BFM.

“It’s a tribute to my mother, a war orphan,” he told BFM.

“In 1943, she was abandoned in front of the church in Châtellerault (Vienne) because she came from the traveller community. She was then taken in by social services, and then adopted seven months later by a man called Georges Canard, a French soldier who later worked on the railways and was involved in the resistance.

“For my son, it was a mark of respect towards his grandmother. We wanted this surname to live on through the new generations even though it is no longer our family name, as women often lose their surname when they marry.”

French courts have the power to block certain baby names if they are deemed harmful to the child – among those refused are Nutella, Deamon and Fraise (strawberry).

READ ALSO The French baby names the law won’t allow

Until 1993, French parents had to choose from a list of acceptable names. This has now been scrapped and parents can make their own choices, within certain limits.

Local authorities in Périgord have raised no issues with Canard, which has parents say will not be used on a daily basis, as it is only a middle name.

EXPLAINED is your name ‘French enough’ for France?