Elsa Klensch Redux: Can Derek Blasberg Bring the Rebirth of CNN’s Style
Who the heck is Elsa Klensch you might ask? Well if you were alive in the 80’s and 90’s and you watched CNN then you know Elsa. You may not know her by name but her refined Australian accent and perfectly bobbed bangs are hard to forget. She cemented the birth of Fashion in American television media, most notably with her CNN tv show Style with Elsa Klensch. One could easily argue she birthed a whole generations great love for fashion. In 2001 Klensch tipped her bangs goodbye to CNN and moved onto print media.
It seems that CNN finally realized they need to get back into the fashion game. Sadly TV and even online media can't seem to drum up the success that Klench had. What I think Elsa brought to the masses was a sense of style, refinement wrapped up in great coverage of the world fashion, design and art. Her success ushered a second wave of fashion based new programs in the 90’s like Fashion Television, Fashion File and MTV’s House of Style. It seems CNN is finally looking to corner the fashion market, since that second wave of TV hosts have completely disappeared from TVbox, hosts like Jeanne Beker (FashionTelevision) and Tim Blanks (Fashion File and style.com), thankfully they both are still enjoying the fashion life but only in print.
Back in April, CNN announced that they have signed fashion personality Derek Blasberg to host a new series online and TV for fashion. A 30-something, best selling author who broke the social media mold in fashion, cementing himself as one of the top visionaries of fashion today. This isn’t Blasberg’s first fashion assignment, his work for Vainty Fair goes back even as far as 2010 when he published his first book Classy: Exceptional Advice for the Extremely Modern Lady. One of the first articles I read by Blasberg was his profile of New it-Auctioneer of the art world, Xin Li of Christies.
Blasberg’s first CNN episode of STYLE hit the website and TV on April 25, 2016. The first episode focused not just on fashion and celebrity but also the Art World. Klensch herself only touched on the world of Art and Design every 2-3 episodes. With a four episodes now in the can, Blasberg seems to be on a roll. He’s grasping his role nicely, even filming himself in great moments showcasing his subjects or destinations. Blasberg is holding his own but I think he could really push further by highlighting very little known facts about his subjects.
For example his most recent episode during the Fall Couture collections in Paris, he had the pleasure of sitting with Karl Lagerfeld during a fitting at the Chanel Atelier. He opened the piece with monologue wandering around the iconic apartment of Coco Chanel. While beautifully shot, Blasberg should have highlighted the treasure trove of moments in history that graced that amazing salon. For example, Chanel’s poetic love affair with Pierre Reverdy would have been a great opportunity for to Derek read one of those poems of Coco while walking around the lacquered panel room. Or highlight the evenings Coco sat with Picasso and Jean Cocteau designing costumes and sets for the ballet Ruisse. Another great moment is story of one of her hosted suppers for Diaghileff, when she invited the amazing Florence Mills to sing for her friends songs from Blackbirds.
Do I think Blasberg has the chops to take this series a lot further? Yes, he can rain in the masses of social media with all of his amazing friends from Karlie Kloss, Taylor Swift to Jessica Alba and Kate Hudson. He can also cast that net wider that will give him even more meaty content. I am especially excited he’s embracing his adventure into the art world which he knows so well. His first episode is even set amongst the world famous art fair ARTBASEL which was hosted in China and art in the Middle East. The episode even has silent walk-on by Auctioneer Xin Li. I think in this episode he really got groove that was fluid through the episode. That groove is certainly there in the subsequent 3 episodes to date.
Quick Note: I would love to see Blasberg revisit STYLE'S roots by doing an interview with Klensch.
For now, check out some of his episodes below.