No one has taken viewers inside the world of fashion like Jeanne Beker. These days, the host of Fashion Television Channel continues to leave her mark with her line for The Shoe Company. With her years of experience covering runways, getting to know style makers and attending VIP soirées, the passionate journalist has no shortage of tales to tell. We asked Jeanne to recall five most memorable moments.
DECEMBER 1995: BACKSTAGE WITH KARL LAGERFELD
I was at the first VH1 Fashion and Music Awards, where the worlds of music and fashion were really colliding. It took place at the Lexington Avenue Armory in New York. Everyone was there, from Madonna and Prince to Karl Lagerfeld and Jean Paul Gaultier. There I was with Karl Lagerfeld and Claudia Schiffer. In those days, [Karl] used to always hold a big fan in front of his face, and for him to be shot without that fan would have been a great faux pas. I remember we were 30 seconds to air and I said, “My god, Karl, you don’t have a fan with you!” So I grabbed a cue card, folded it in the shape of a fan and handed it to him just a second before we went on air. He was so delighted, we just became fast friends after that. That was a real moment when I felt like, ‘Wow, I’m really on Team Fashion here.’
MAY 2006: BEHIND-THE-SCENES MCQUEEN
Alexander McQueen was going to receive an honourary doctorate from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. That night he asked to sit beside me at an intimate, 15-person dinner. He told me that he was never really good at chatting up strangers. During our conversation, he shared some incredibly intimate things with me about his life. I started to really get such a feeling for the tender side of McQueen. I always knew he was a sensitive artist, and we just felt like kindred spirits.
JULY 2007: A STARRY NIGHT IN ROME
It was exquisite just to be invited to Valentino’s 45th anniversary in Rome. All of the movers and shakers of the international fashion scene were there, along with incredible stars. I had been to Valentino’s studio in Rome in the ’80s when we first started FashionTelevision, so it was amazing to be back. All of a sudden the stars started arriving -- Uma Thurman, Sarah Jessica Parker, Anne Hathaway. Even Princess Caroline of Monaco was there. They gave me a superb spot on the red carpet, so I felt like a real friend of the house. Later, there was an incredible outdoor dinner party at the historic Temple of Venus, which faces the Colosseum. We had an amazing dinner and drank countless glasses of champagne. Just after midnight, there was an incredible aerial dance show and artists that were clad in flowing red Valentino gowns sailed through the night sky. The performance culminated with fireworks. We were rendered speechless. It was really the kind of event that reminded you why you stay in the fashion business, as crazy and mad as it sometimes is.
APRIL 2011: THE PRINCESS BRIDE
I had the honour of reporting on the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s royal wedding. I was live on television when Kate stepped out of the car, and it was revealed to the world that she was wearing Alexander McQueen. Remember how heavily that was speculated upon? We were standing just across from Westminster Abbey, and I remember thinking it was such a smart choice. It meant so much to me personally because Alexander McQueen was a dear friend. It was a wonderful tribute to his memory, and a wonderful moment for royal fashion.
FEBRUARY 2014: SINGULAR HONOURS
Receiving the Vanguard Award at the first Canadian Arts and Fashion Awards meant so much to me. To stand up there and see all of these people applauding and honouring me in that way, it was as though my career in fashion flashed before my eyes. Just a few weeks before, I learned that I had received the Order of Canada for my support of Canadian designers. It was very magical, to be recognized in this country as someone who blazed a few trails.