Fashion icon and iconoclast, author, reporter and magazine maven, Toronto-born Jeanne Beker is best known as host and producer of the long-running show FashionTelevision, bringing names like Versace and Lagerfeld into living rooms in 120 countries around the globe. Her trailblazing career began at age 16 with a series of small-screen appearances, followed by a stint studying theatre before she decamped for Paris to study mime. Three television shows, three books (Jeanne Unbottled: Adventures In High Style, The Big Night Out and Passion For Fashion), two limited release clothing lines and two magazines (Sir and FQ) later, she shows no signs of stepping down as Canada's first lady of fashion. If you don't catch her backstage in Milan filming for FT, look for her in the judge's chair on Canada's Next Top Model, at one of the numerous charity events she hosts, and, now, immortalized as a Bratz doll named Jeanne B.
What gets Beker into her heels every morning? "Drive. No, overdrive," she says. "When you've got a passion, it's exhausting yes, and you're spent, but it's exhilarating at the same time. I'm not stopping anytime soon. I always say if you think you've arrived, it's probably time to leave."
House & Home: What do you like most about your home?
Jeanne Beker: I love the fact that I have four fireplaces — one each in my bedroom, office, living room and den. I love the cosy warmth of a fire.
H&H: Describe your style.
JB: Eclectic. I have some traditional furniture combined with extraordinary art on the walls — the way you might tie a fantastic scarf around your neck to really rock a traditional outfit.
H&H: Do you have a favourite colour scheme?
JB: I love my bedroom, which has yellow walls and blue-and-white toile drapes. It’s the cheeriness I love. A friend told me there is nothing better than waking up to a yellow room.
H&H: Are you a collector of anything?
JB: I collect evening bags. I still have the one I carried to my sweet sixteen — a little, bright silver plastic pouch. They’re like souvenirs from all the special events in my life.
H&H: Describe your perfect getaway.
JB: An ultra-long weekend at my farm. I get my fix of fabulousness on the circuit, but nothing beats the comfort and joy of being surrounded by the people I love in my tiny 1842 stone farmhouse in Northumberland, Ont.
H&H: What city do you find inspiring?
JB: Going to Paris for the couture is always at the top of my list because you see these designers pull out all the stops and let their fantasies fly.
H&H: Whose personal style do you most admire?
JB: Anybody who’s confident and comfortable in their own skin. My daughters [ages 18 and 21] are a great example — it’s not about labels, it’s about their creativity.
H&H: Name three people you’d love to have at a dinner party.
JB: My late father, Joseph Beker, Coco Chanel and Paul McCartney. Growing up with a poster of the Beatles over my bed, did I ever think I’d be rubbing shoulders with him?
H&H: How do you define beauty?
JB: Acceptance. I think with it comes a kind of peace that goes beyond what I might say is beautiful when I’m staging a shot for my magazine.
H&H: Finish this sentence: “I feel most comfortable when …”
JB: I’m with people that I love.