Jeanne Beker’s “Finding Myself in Fashion”
We should all adhere to the motto “Don’t be afraid, and never give up!” Quite fitting as I’ve adopted it from my idol, Canadian face of fashion, Jeanne Beker whom I’ve had the amazing opportunity to interview for the second time this year, thank you very much! Fortunately, the nerves were intact this time around.
Looking gracious and gorgeous dressed in classic black and towering in pretty platforms, our meet was over her sixth book and second autobiography titled Finding Myself in Fashion. I for one love to read, so it was no surprise when I avidly devoured her candid and poignant story of a woman “set out to live a life that was not just great but extraordinary”. Make no mistake, it’s beyond the gloss of bubbles swinging and air-kissing.
In her continuous effort of democratizing the lofty world of fashion, she humbly shares her heartfelt moments that took stage on and off screen. We discover a real woman, akin to you and I, faced with her own set of trials and tribulations; she is honest in her count of her 18-year marriage split, proves bravado by holding helm as sole Fashion Television host and plenty of gusto balancing her remarkable life. Often admired for her fearlessness in the fashion foray, she attributes her own tenacity to her beloved Holocaust-survivor parents reflected in the chapter “Survival Mode”.
Journalist, business woman and mother of two, Jeanne Beker has much to be “proud as punch” as she recurrently expresses.
Want to know more? Read on as we chat about her sense of purpose, why she believes in angels, and how she has no plans on slowing down.
What motivated you to write Finding Myself in Fashion?
I wrote this book to really be able to connect with people. I always think that the only really great thing about what we have to give to one another is really our own personal story. That’s really what connects us to each other and as human beings especially for women.
I just hope to really inspire women and a whole generation of them that grew up watching me on Fashion Television now 25 years later. I really want to connect with them as much as possible and doing it in this way allows me to do it a little bit more.
The documentary on Bill Cunningham New York illustrated a passionate creative man that seemed at times subject to loneliness and sadness. Why do you think those that create such beauty are often inflicted with inner turmoil?
It’s the case with many great artists that have a lot to say and struggle to say it. Probably it’s attributed to their desire to remain true to their ideals in a world that is filled with a lot of BS. Also, it can be particularly lonely to juggle especially if you’ve reached a certain place in life where people look to you as some great beacon of hope. You have to have it together and you have to please so many people.
Funny enough, people in the fashion world as insensitive as some of them can be, attract people that are incredibly sensitive. Most are aware of self-image and think about how they are coming across to others and how others are coming across to them. This business is rooted in this whole idea of imagery. It’s definitely a reflection of someone’s sensitivity and inability to guard themselves and build up that armour and keep it intact.
What has been your greatest interview thus far?
It’s hard for me to single out just one because they’re has been so many great moments. So many interviews that I’ve had with the late Alexander McQueen especially one that I had with him in San Francisco- it was very poignant as he had reached this whole new plateau in his spiritual and professional life.
Every time I talk with Karl Lagerfeld even if it’s for a few minutes, it’s full of energy and he has a very generous spirit. I love Jean Paul Gaultier and I have great conversations with him. He’s like a big kid and such a genius. I can’t wait for him to show at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts exhibition this June.
You are obviously passionate about illustrating beauty and fashion. What do you believe is your purpose?
I believe it’s as a communicator and to inspire people. I’m living proof that if you dream and you dream big, you can do it on your own. I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth; my parents were penniless Holocaust survivor immigrants. Even when life throws you a whole whack of lemons just try to make lemonade out of it. Just like when my marriage broke up. I know that resonated with a lot of women. Just one day you think everything is perfect and you just get hit by a truck. I’m here to tell women that there is a light after that type of tragedy and it’s a matter of just remembering who you are and being true to yourself.
I also believe in angels. If you are pure of heart and have really good intentions, it will come back to you. But you also have to be on your toes; you can’t just wait around and expect things to happen. I always tell my daughters that the world is their oyster. It all depends on how hard you want to work and refusing to take no for an answer, miracles will happen.
Last year you celebrated a milestone with Fashion Television. How does the next 25 years read?
I don’t know because if you were to ask me 25 years ago what it would have looked like, I would have never been able to predict all my accomplishments.
I just want more and continued success and I want to continue to put myself out there and I want to keep connecting with people in various ways. Though, it would be nice to have a downtime too, but I’ll be careful for what you wish for! Outside of business, I would also like to travel more and continue to spend more time with people that mean everything to me.
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GOOD LUCK TO ALL!
[PHOTO CREDIT: SEBASTIEN ROY]