MONTREAL, June 4 /CNW Telbec/ - Let's be frank, we all love sneaking in a little dose of fashion television into our lives. Project Runway, Launch My Line, America's Next Top Model, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, What Not To Wear - all hugely popular television shows that delight armchair fashionistas.
Jennifer Andrews, presenting at the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences held at Montreal's Concordia University, is more than a fan - she watches it for work. The professor in the University of New Brunswick's English department researches fashion media, and her favourite show of all is the grande dame of fashion television - the aptly-named Fashion Television.
And, surprise - Fashion Television, or FT, is a Canadian creation.
On air since 1985, the hugely popular show is watched all over the world. Anchored by host Jeanne Beker, it's become one of the most popular, and accessible, fashion shows, specializing in covering runway shows, trends, gossip and interviews with designers and models. It's fun fashion - "eye candy" as Beker calls it.
Armed with her ever-present microphone, coffee cup and lipstick, Beker is a vivacious reporter who wears Canadian clothes and promotes Canadian designers. Andrews finds that her work has brought Canadian fashion to the world stage.
"Coverage of Montreal and Toronto fashion weeks are now given equal, if not greater, coverage than those of New York and Milan," says the researcher . "Beker is the genie who let Canadian fashion out of the bottle by fostering Canuck talent."
Notable among her discoveries are Toronto's Dan and Dean Caten. The twins helm the hot fashion label, DSQUARED (once described as clothes for the Versace-lover's younger sister). Based in Milan, the Caten brothers embrace their Canadian identity as a smart marketing move in order to set themselves apart. "The walls of their Milan boutique is adorned with Canadian lumber, and models in plaid flannel lumberjack shirts strut runways decorated as camping sites. It's kitsch, but it works, and sells," says Andrews.
Andrews and her research partner Priscilla Walton, a professor at Carleton University's English department, plan to continue their quest to tell the story of Canadian fashion. For the two academics, fashion is an oft-neglected field of research. "We felt that there was no information of fashion and Canadianess," explains Andrews, who has been captivated by fashion since she was a child. "At the end of the day, our hope is help people understand how television and fashion contribute to create or reinvent Canadian citizenship."
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Organised by the Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, the annual Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences brings together about 9,000 researchers, scholars, graduate students, practitioners, and policy makers to share groundbreaking research and examine the most important social and cultural issues of the day. Montréal's Concordia University is the host of Congress 2010, May 28 to June 4.
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