Jeanne Beker On The Evolution Of Fashion Coverage
Jeanne Beker On The Evolution Of Fashion Coverage
Canadian fashion icon Jeanne Beker has been inducted into Canada’s Walk of Fame for her work in television. Following her start on the groundbreaking series The NewMusic and as an entertainment anchor for CityPulse News, Beker is best known as the host of the internationally syndicated series Fashion Television, which aired for 27 years in over 130 countries.
But when FT came to an end in 2012, Beker knew it was time. “I knew it. Those days were numbered. You really didn’t feel like you were having any sort of exclusive backstage pass.” Beker attributes the rise of tech and bloggers contributing to the shift in the media landscape. “I don’t say that [bloggers] in a negative way. I think it’s great that everybody should have a voice and technology has allowed us to beam these shows everywhere as they happen! It certainly wasn’t like that when I started reported. I didn’t even have a Blackberry!”
In fact, RIM gave Beker her very own Blackberry during the first season of Toronto Fashion Week. “Oh you’ll be able to report on what you’re seeing as it’s coming down the runway,” they told her. “Then later, they installed cameras onto these phones and we could now shoot images!”
Beker was always at the forefront with each technological change. In fact, she was part of the Internet’s first-ever fashion website, @Fashion. “I was the first person the planet to have a fashion website. I did that with MCI in the early ‘90s. There was no fashion on the Internet before that at all. Who could even believe that now as the net’s full of fashion! I’ve been very blessed to see this amazing transition in the fashion world and the world of technology. I really do believe that you’ve got to keep an eye towards the future and see what’s coming next.”
That being said, Beker is still looking back. “We always give a respectful nod as to what went before us, but I love nostalgia. I’m working with Bell Media now to repurpose the old archives [Bell Media now owns the FT library].
While Beker is still active on the fashion scene, she admits that she isn’t enjoying it the same way as she did before. “It’s dishing out a different kind of product and very different kind of sensibility. I do have great nostalgia for the wonders that I got to see unfold in those early days of covering fashion and that has allowed me to do a lot of other things. I never thought I’d be the style editor of a retail channel!” Beker is the host of The Shopping Channel’s Style Matters with Jeanne Beker, which is a collision of all her worlds. She's also got her own clothing line with the retailer. “It’s retail. It’s fashion. It’s communication. It’s business. It’s everything rolled into one… Maybe I wouldn’t have been able to do that if I was still as busy as I was on Fashion Television.”
Beker's Style columns also appear each other Saturday in The Globe and Mail.
As always, Beker’s managed to keep her following updated on her work and life through social media, (follow her on Instagram). “I’m so blessed. I’ve led this multifaceted life and now more than ever, I’ve struck out this balance at this ripe old age,” she laughs. “It took a few decades to get here, but I can live half the time in the country and the other half of the time in the city. There’s a part of my life that’s all about dressing up and going to fabulous parties and schmoozing with the beautiful people and then there’s another part of my life that’s just about the cozy comfort of living in a small community in the country. I’ve got this old house and my daughter lives on a farm, about fifteen minutes away from me. I really love that part of my life as well. I feel that so many people watched me on TV for so many years and now they’re interesting in seeing what goes on behind the scenes a little bit and how I’ve managed to make sense of my crazy life. Not everyone comes out of this business unscathed.”
But that’s not to say that Beker’s left “that life.” She’s just no longer reporting from the international trenches of fashion each week. “I know that a lot of people miss that. A part of me misses that too but it’s just not the same anymore,” she circles back.
“I still go to the shows. But I just sit back and I can finally see the forest through the trees. I got some incredible sound bites in my day where I got some great interviews and exclusive scoops. I breathed all this magic but it’s just different now. It really is. If you asked anyone else from the old days of fashion, they’d tell you that there’s a profound difference. It’s a different energy in the world today. It’s a different kind of creativity. We’ll never see the likes of what we saw… It was truly the golden age of fashion.”
“I was reminiscing about it the other day with Kate Moss who also said, ‘Wow, it ain’t what it used to be.’ That’s for sure!”
The 2016 Canada’s Walk of Fame show airs Monday, December 19 at 9 p.m. ET on Global.