Canada’s first lady of fashion talks labels — including her new line, Edit by Jeanne Beker — and why you need to keep buying local.
You’ve been a spokeswoman for Canadian fashion for so long. What went into the decision to branch out with your own line?
I had a clothing line — it was very short-lived — with Eaton’s about 10 years ago, so the concept for me isn’t quite a new one. It just makes sense because it’s a great way to have a dialogue with all these women who have grown up watching me, or who, like me, have fast-paced, multi-faceted lifestyles. It’s a chance for me to open up my style sensibility and, in a way, my closet to them and show them the piece I need to get through my busy life.
What’s it like for you to be on the other side of the fashion story now?
For me this seems like a natural extension of what I’ve been doing all these years. You start out being a kind of voyeur reporting on something, and by osmosis you learn so much about that arena that you end up doing it yourself.
You have this incredible sense of style but you make it look quite effortless. Is that part of the ethos behind your brand?
I think that the best style is effortless. If it’s about effort, it just looks too contrived and it really doesn’t look comfortable. What’s important to me is that these are clothes you’re going to wear and that aren’t going to wear you.
Do you think that’s a function of this sense, or undercurrent of conservatism that seems to inform mainstream Canadian style?
Well, for a long time there was, but I really think it’s changing. There will always be some designers who are incredibly conservative and want to express themselves in that way, but over the last few years we’ve found an amazing new school of designers that have just really rocked the house.
Denis Gagnon is a perfect example. Honestly, I think he’s probably the most creative designer in the country. He has a show on now at the Musee des Beaux Arts in Montreal that’s just astounding. I toured it with Jean-Paul Gaultier a few weeks ago and even Jean-Paul was like, “Wow!” So please, please support and wear Canadian designers.