If anyone were to boast as much passion for fashion as Jeanne Beker, it would probably have to be Jeanne B — her miniature, albeit plastic counterpart.
That’s right: The renowned, globetrotting Fashion Television reporter now has a Bratz doll modelled after her. And as Toronto-born Beker recalls, the two share not only a career in common, but also a similar motto.
“What happened was the Bratz people sent me a doll,” she explains. “So I saw this wonderful Bratz doll sitting on my desk and I thought ‘this is really cute,’ and all of the sudden I looked at the tagline or motto for the Bratz doll and it was ‘the only girls with a passion for fashion,’ and I had just sent (my new) book off to my publisher and had called it Passion For Fashion.”
This inspired Beker to call Bratz and suggest a fashion reporter doll that could tie into her new ’tween book, a guide for young people wanting to break into the fashion industry. Naturally, Bratz decided to name the backstage pass-carrying beauty Jeanne B and package it with the book.
Also available in bookstores, Passion For Fashion: Careers In Style is Beker’s third book, following 2001 memoir Jeanne Unbottled: Adventures In High Style, and 2005 children’s book The Big Night Out.
The aim of Passion For Fashion, an 80-page illustrated book, is to demystify the fashion world for adolescents, says Beker, who launched it during L’Oréal Fashion Week. The book summarizes the training required and responsibilities involved in a variety of fashion-related jobs — from a model booker to a show producer, and everything in between.
“A lot of kids just look at the obvious jobs. They love fashion so they think: ‘I’ll be a designer or I’ll be a model.’ But it’s such a multi-faceted, multi-layered kind of arena that they could explore so that’s hopefully what the book will inspire them to do.”
With 23 years of fashion reporting experience, her current editor-in-chief roles at FQ Magazine and SIR Magazine, as well as her experience as a Canada’s Next Top Model judge, Beker is the perfect mentor. However, the York University theatre graduate, who has two teenage daughters, admits her own future in fashion wasn’t always apparent.
“I started hosting Fashion Television in 1985, but honestly … I always thought of myself as an entertainment reporter first and foremost.”
Eventually her interest in fashion’s constant evolution and excitement drew Beker, now 56, in for the long haul. “What attracted me to fashion in the first place was the great theatrical quality to it.
“It’s sort of a great arena to grow old in … The greater your frame of reference and the longer you’ve been around, it’s just a richer kind of experience.”
Besides the obvious shoulder rubbing with the industry’s biggest personalities, another great perk Beker says her job offers is the opportunity to get involved with various charitable organizations. In fact, just recently, she swapped roles and walked down the runway for Toronto Fashion Week’s Heart Truth show, a Heart and Stroke Foundation initiative aimed at raising awareness.
“I can’t tell you what a great feeling it gives me and at the end of the day that’s what it’s all about … reaching out to people,” says Beker, who is also the past honorary chair of Toronto’s Annual Fashion Cares.
So what’s next for the woman who seems to have done it all?
More of the same, she says, including a follow-up biography.
“(Jeanne Unbottled) was written shortly after my marriage broke up and I was still just trying to find my feet again.
“I’d like to now start to write a book where that one left off, (about) how I managed to survive as a single mother.”
Survival, she says, is “something we can all relate to.”