tuned into fashion: fashion file

June 6, 2013 in stop look & listen by editor

Tim Blanks

Fashion File
Host: Tim Blanks
Network: CBC
Circa: 1989 – 2009

I heart15 the 90’s: “Fashion File” launched on the Canadian Broadcast System in 1989 but is most remembered for its 1990’s episodes which were syndicated on cable television all over the world. Hosted by the ever-so-engaging Tim Blanks, each (way too short) 30-minute episode featured fashion show coverage, supermodel interviews and behind-the-scenes peaks of the ready-to-wear and haute couture worlds. In the 2000’s, the show started moving away from its sophisticated yet lively fashion coverage, retooling its format to focus more on celebrity style, losing much of its insider-y charm. Tim’s departure from the series in 2006 led to the CBC’s reality show competition, “Fashion File Host Hunt”. Chosen was some dude Adrian Mainella, whom we don’t really know except that he apparently didn’t warm the heart cockles of Canadian “Fashion File” fans. Two years later, the show was canned for good.

Hopelessly Devoted: Ask any 30-40-something fashion disciple about “Fashion File” and you’re likely to get an enthusiastic — even giddy — response, one that is both nostalgic for those late-night viewings on 90’s cable television and disheartened by today’s TV fashion reporting. In an age before the internet, “Fashion File” brought high end style coverage to parts of the world where learning about the latest designers was limited to foreign copies of Vogue. As Business of Fashion’s Imram Amed so perfectly summed it up in his recent op-ed “A Long Overdue Letter to Tim Blanks“, the show “brought your energy and smart analysis from the epicentres of London, Paris and New York straight to my living room, far from the runways, in Calgary, Canada.” Trying to find vintage clips of Fashion File can be daunting; very few have hit YouTube and what is there is of very poor quality. Luckily, we still have “Masters of Style” — a collection of one-on-one interviews profiling the most legendary designers in the business — which are available on Hulu.

Before and After the File: Although he left the show several years before its demise, “Fashion File” belongs to Tim Blanks. A New Zealand native, he relocated to London during the original punk era, fashioning clothes from junk shop cast-offs and saving up every last penny to shop at the legendary Vivienne Westwood/ Malcolm McLaren boutique, Seditionaries. (A short stint in LA landed him a personal assistant gig with Brian Ferry.) Upon moving to Canada in the early 80’s, Blanks wrote about fashion for Toronto Life, which led to hosting “Fashion File”. After 17 years on the job, he departed the show and joined the masthead at Flare magazine as an Editor-at-Large. Today, he can regularly be found at Style.com, where he weaves that familiar wit and pop cultural knowledge into his fashion reviews. At this week’s annual CFDA awards ceremony, Blanks was acknowledged for his stellar career when he was handed the Media Award in Honor of Eugenia Sheppard. It’s criminal that it took this long for the veteran journalist to receive the honor (especially given that relative newbies Scott Schuman and Garance DorĂ© had won last year) but we’re happy to see Blanks get the recognition that is long overdue.