dear Jeanne Beker
I have just finished reading Jeanne Unbottled, and I’m glad I did.
I’ve always had mixed feelings about Jeanne Beker’s show Fashion Television. On one hand I do really love to see fashion on video. Also, I really admire all the work that Beker does to bring Canadian content to a world audience.
My enjoyment of the show is really compromised by my hate for the “fashion soundbite”. Beker has a paparazzo/veejay style that I can’t get behind. No one ever seems to have anything coherent or interesting to say at fashion week. It’s nice to get a taste of what it’s like to go to the shows but please spare me the inane small talk. Designer interviews are also sometimes quite cringeworthy.
Part of what used to bug me about Fashion Television was watching Jeanne Beker get snubbed by the fashion snobs, again and again. Sometimes I would identify with the snobs (get that freaking microphone away from me!) and other times I would viscerally feel the snub myself as a geeky Canadian girl many rungs below Jeanne Beker on the ladder of fashionability. I’m a little jealous of her too. All of these things made watching Fashion Television an uncomfortable pastime.
Reading Jeanne Beker’s autobiography gave me a greater appreciation of her style: Beker’s got a ton of chutzpah, she’s got that brassy in-your-face attitude and her background at the CHUM group is really evident with her warts-and-all style of revealing the production of the show within the show. The success of Fashion Television makes sense when you realize it was about bringing fashion to the masses – no surprise that the show developed just as supermodel mania was shaking the mainstream. The celebrity/pop culture/sex angle on fashion was really effective counter to other fashion media of the time which took itself so seriously.
The mainstream aspect of the show is also what turns me off – as an obsessive fashionophile there isn’t the depth or detail there to keep me interested. Only the internet can satisfy my “weird” – all other media have too many people to please who don’t care as much as I do. Still, Fashion Television remains the closest I’ve ever come to experiencing the world’s fashion capitals and the fashion weeks.
The book was a quick read, and the personal parts were both awkward and touching as you realize that Beker identifies as a fashion outsider too. Honestly, after reading this book I do hope to meet her in person someday, and tell her how I admire her spunk. As Canadians we often under-rate our own and in this case I was guilty of that too. Jeanne is an honest and gutsy woman and her experience is worth learning from.