Jeanne Beker has seen the designs of all the greats from Galliano to Versace, and now she will be evaluating the collections of Ryerson’s very own designers.
Beker, a prominent media personality who has her own line of clothing and accessories, has been chosen as the curator for an annual student-run fashion show hosted by the Ryerson school of fashion. Robert Ott, the school’s chair, announced the news on Twitter Wednesday afternoon.
“My good friend Robert Ott asked me if I would do it and the temptation was really there for me because you really get to see the crème de la crème,” Beker said. “Some of the best kids in the country are graduating from Ryerson. I’m just really excited, it’s going to be a great exercise and chock full of inspiration.”
Beker is best known for her 27-year stint at Fashion Television. She has also worked for 1050 CHUM, Citytv, The Toronto Star and The Globe and Mail.
“(I’ve spent) almost 30 years in the fashion trenches, so I hope to bring a perspective and certainly a strong frame of reference,” she said. “I get to see high fashion with a capital H and then I get to see what really moves in retail having my own line and selling accessories right across the country. That gives me a real feel for commercial viability. So hopefully some of these people that we’ll be featuring will be able to walk that line between those two worlds.”
The show, dubbed Mass Exodus, showcases the collections of fourth-year fashion students. Beker will be presented with a book weeks before the opening that represents all the students’ work. Her task as curator will be to draft an initial list of designers based on how the students present themselves and articulate their vision. On the day of the event, she will be responsible for making a final selection from the students’ work from a midday show to be presented during the evening “short show”. The selection is made using a set of criteria set forward by the School of Fashion, as well as the impressions of the curator.
Beker, who has previously supported Ryerson’s school of fashion by hosting talks with designers Dean and Dan Caten of DSquared2 and Christopher Raeburn of Victorinox, said she is looking forward to seeing fresh and innovative designs.
“There is such a sea of sameness out there, it really is a special designer that has the ability to wake people up and shake them out of their complacency,” she said. “I’m hoping for some great wake-up call because if it doesn’t come from the kids, I don’t know where it’s going to come from. It’s up to fashion’s future to really blaze new trails in fashion.”
Ott said he has already received a lot of positive response about his announcement and is proud that Beker has agreed to take on the role.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for the students to have an opportunity to have their work looked at by somebody like Jeanne,” he said. “This is going to be the kind of thing that will make them hunker down and really make sure that their collection sings, as I like to say.”
Another impetus for designers will be the e-commerce platform being implemented for the first time this year. Attendees will be able to purchase some of the clothing, accessories, and books from the show using a free app for iOS and Android platforms. Ott said in previous years he would receive multiple requests to buy clothing from the runway after the show, but that option was not available. Beker said that the idea is brilliant.
“At the end of the day, clothes are meant to be worn. That’s not to say they can’t be fabulous and creative and be hung on a wall and admired, but if any of these people really want to make a living in the fashion business they are going to have to create clothes that people want to wear,” said Beker, who has her own lines of clothing and accessories. “The show will be a great testing ground for designers to put some of their wears out there and see what manages to sell.”
Mass Exodus takes place on April 1 at the Mattamy Athletic Centre and tickets will be on sale mid-February.