Remembering Elsa Klensch, the OG Purveyor of Style

Photo credit: Marianne Barcellona - Getty Images

Photo credit: Marianne Barcellona – Getty Images

A dream career is often triggered by a moment, a spark that ignites a love for an industry and world one longs to inhabit. For many of us blessed enough to come of fashion age during the Eighties and early Nineties, that spark was Style with Elsa Klensch, the groundbreaking, weekly half-hour on CNN that brought the fashion world into living rooms around the globe.

Klensch, who died in New York City at the age of 92, was the ultimate OG of fashion reportage. Before bloggers and influencers flooded fashion shows, Klensch, trailed by a camera crew, was a major presence on the international Collections circuit. Saturday mornings at 10 forever changed for a generation glued to their screens for exclusive, insider insights and intelligent reporting on the worlds of fashion, design, and interiors.

Everything about Klensch’s show exuded elegance, from the opening notes–lifted from the Royal Classical Orchestra’s Concerto for Trumpet, Strings–to the chic font of each letter, forming the word “Style” with a ribbon playfully threading through it. The crescendo, of course, was Elsa herself, coolly introducing each new episode with those signature words in her distinct voice tinged her distinct Australian accent.

“This is Style, and I am Elsa Klensch, reporting on some of the most important trends in fashion.”

Klensch’s impact on a whole new generation of fashion stars cannot be overstated. She provided a glimpse into the world of fashion at a time when the industry was transforming from pure fashion into lifestyle, and Klensch–a serious, no-nonsense journalist, trained in New York at the trade bible Women’s Wear Daily–had the best seat to witness it all.

Photo credit: Ron Galella - Getty Images

Photo credit: Ron Galella – Getty Images

Her pioneering reportage ranged from fashion trends–hemlines and hair to accessories–to the business of fashion and home. In a half hour or so, she could deliver the best backstage quips from Calvin Klein, Karl Lagerfeld, and Gianni Versace, a look into the glamorous life of model Roshumba, and the breathtaking Pantellaria home of jewelry designer Angela Pintaldi.

Her lines were gospel–at least to this young teenager who religiously taped each episode on VHS–from her take on the Supermodel phenomenon (“The question the fashion industry is asking: Are the models worth the money they get, especially in these times of recession?”) –to the shift from Eighties excess to Nineties realism (“Soft and modern is the catch phrase here but there is definitely a change in the air and grunge is the inspiration”).

Photo credit: Ron Galella - Getty Images

Photo credit: Ron Galella – Getty Images

Elsa Klensch was the inspiration to so many of us.

These days, camera crews have been replaced smartphones, and everyone plays fashion reporter via TikTok and Reels. But there will never be another Elsa Klensch. Thank you for the spark.

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