Caryn Franklin: My life in media
'As a fashion journalist you continuously meet people who just take themselves too seriously. That's when you want to say, for God's sake, it's only frocks'
Monday 29 January 2007
Caryn Franklin, 47, has been a fashion journalist and broadcaster for 23 years. A former fashion editor and co-editor of i-D magazine, she began working for Channel 4's Swank in 1984. Probably best known for fronting the BBC Sunday afternoon favourite The Clothes Show during the 1980s and early 1990s, Franklin has also produced documentaries on fashion icons including Vivienne Westwood, Agnès B and Philip Treacy. A regular fashion expert on GMTV and This Morning, she has written books on the industry and women's health. Last autumn The Clothes Show franchise returned to screens, but this time on UKTV Style. Franklin fronted the series with Louise Redknapp and Brendan Courtney.
What inspired you to start a career in the media?
I've always enjoyed anthropology and the politics of image, without really recognising where that was leading. I always had opinions, though. I started working at i-D magazine and became part of the fashion journalism circuit.
When you were 15 years old, what was the family newspaper and did you read it?
The newspaper in our house was The Daily Telegraph - but we didn't really take many papers in our family. We were always immensely active. That said, I got all of my sex education from Jackie.
And what were your favourite TV and radio programmes?
There was bugger-all on television when I was growing up. I liked Monty Python - I used to beg my parents to let me watch it, but they thought it was very vulgar.
Describe your job
My days vary between live events, filming and research on the latest fashion trends. I also act as a consultant for high street stores.
What media do you turn on first thing in the morning?
I'm up at around 6.30am and actually I just like to sit and watch the garden grow. My first contact with media is online. I check my website www.howtolook good.com and I also get the WGSN [Worth Global Style Network] news bulletin because it has the latest news and research, as well as trend analysis for fashion.
What's the best thing about your job?
The clothes, the glamour and the creative people.
What's the worst thing about your job?
As a fashion journalist you continuously meet people who just take themselves too seriously, who just don't see the bigger picture. That's when I want to say, "For God's sake it's only frocks." Some people forget that.
What is the proudest achievement in your working life?
In the early 1990s I worked with charities to take loads of clothes to Bosnia. British teenagers had donated to young people out there, so we took it out and I reported back about what was going on out there. It felt like the right thing to do, because clothes are important to young people and their identity. It showed that fashion isn't always a superficial industry.
At home, what do you tune in to?
I go straight to Living TV for CSI - I don't care where. I just love it. I like to create order out of disorder and it's the same approach for CSI. At the end of a long day it's the show I want to watch.
What is your Sunday paper, and do you have a favourite magazine?
My favourite is The Observer. I prefer the fashion, the editorials and the images. Draper's Record is the industry bible, but for leisure I like to read Grazia. It's quick off the mark and often everyone else is playing catch-up - especially television shows. I don't know why but TV doesn't seem to see itself as the place to break stories any more.
If you didn't work in the media, what would you do?
Without hesitation I can tell you I would be a landscape gardener. I love staying in the same filthy clothes for days with dirt under my fingernails just concentrating on the garden.
Name the one career ambition you want to realise before you retire
I feel lucky, because I've interviewed everyone from Yves Saint Laurent to Vivienne Westwood. I feel as though I don't really have many ambitions left. I'm not changing the world but I've done all the stuff that I wanted to do when I was young and starry-eyed about fashion journalism.
Who in the media do you most admire and why?
Jo Whiley because she has knowledge, passion and integrity. And she's a cool dresser too.
1978: Works at i-D magazine, becoming first fashion editor and then co-editor.
1984: Works on Channel 4 show Swank
1986: Presents BBC1's The Clothes Show alongside Selina Scott and Jeff Banks. Becomes main co-host once Scott leaves.
1998: Leaves the series, which continues to run for another two years, making it the corporation's longest-running fashion programme.
2002-2006: Guest fashion expert on GMTV, This Morning and LK Today
2006: The Clothes Show returns on UKTV Style. Franklin presents with Brendan Courtney and Louise Redknapp.
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