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16-05-2014
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Jackie Frank - Stylist


I set off to meet Jackie Frank with trepidation.

It was a decade before Lauren Weisberger catapulted ice queen Miranda Priestly into pop culture history, but I'd conjured up a spookily similar character. In my mind, Ms Frank would be a formidable perfectionist: designer-clad with a razor-sharp tongue, cool eyes and killer heels. She'd choose her words carefully, be unnervingly reserved and occasionally charming, but ultimately skewer me with a hellfire of trick questions.

I only knew two things about Jackie Frank: she'd worked as a high-flying fashion stylist on Britain's and America's most prestigious fashion magazines; and her mum was Lillian Frank, Melbourne's society queen with a little black book of VIP pals. Intimidated, moi?

It was 1995 and I was being interviewed for the role of sub-editor on Australia's most exciting magazine launch in years. Wearing the uniform - head-to-toe black, blow-dried hair and a borrowed designer tote - I had only one thing in my favour, given that my fashion-label knowledge barely extended beyond Witchery. I had devoured overseas editions of marie claire and had become a diehard fan of the magazine's features. I really wanted this job.

The marie claire office was an eerie wasteland - scores of desks begging to be filled - except for Jackie's large, bare compound. It wasn't the weird emptiness preoccupying my mind, but that initial shock sighting of the woman herself.

Dressed in a shapeless velvet sack, she beamed at me behind rimless glasses. She wasn't wearing a skerrick of make-up and her hair resembled an upturned mop. Then she outstretched a bare foot from under the desk, not a polished toenail or Manolo in sight.

If Jackie's name hadn't been on the door, I would've thought I'd stumbled into a charity shelter for the homeless. I couldn't be happier. This woman seemed normal!

Safe to say, my next seven years at marie claire proved there is nothing "normal" about Jackie Frank.

If Miranda Priestly is cool, calculating, immaculate and precise, Jackie is a bull in a china shop, acting on instinct and emotion. She is renowned for saying exactly what she thinks, loudly and without sugar-coating it - no-one who works here is ever left wondering what's going on in Jackie's mind.

She cries on a whim, belly laughs with gusto, takes the trolley from the waiters at yum cha, plays practical jokes and sits cross-legged on the floor, hitching up her frock to dangerous heights. She'll steal scraps of food off your desk, bellow your name across the hall (her dulcet tones can slice through concrete), and swear like a footballer.

Despite this anti-chic exterior, Jackie is a walking fashion encyclopedia and besties with hot-shot designers, stylists, supermodels and photographers the world over. When her imported stilettos went missing across the Atlantic two days before her wedding, she playfully screamed down the phone to the designer (in a mock-Asian accent), "Jimmy Choo, where my shoe?"

Jackie navigates fashion's many quirks like a pro. When a French stylist threw a tantrum and locked herself in the fashion cupboard, refusing to emerge unless Jackie reinstated a photo of a Gucci tote that had been cut from her story, Jackie phoned her in the closet and deftly coaxed her out, like some hostage scene from a Hollywood blockbuster. What's high drama to most is all in a day's work for Jackie.

A low boredom threshold has given her an insatiable appetite for multi-tasking - she's happiest when simultaneously solving an advertising issue, approving a fashion shoot, emailing the French office with a new campaign idea and questioning the features line-up.

A common myth about fashion mag editors is they're office part-timers, breezing in between lengthy lunches and cocktail parties. We wish! In the early years of the magazine, Jackie lived at her desk, putting in mind-numbingly long hours, and we were all expected to follow suit - marie claire was your life, not a job.

That time was a frenzy of late nights, office drinking sessions, missed deadlines (due to the drinking) and laugh-out-loud dramas. For those who wanted to leave at a respectable hour, we'd worked out a military-style system. To reach the lift, staff had no choice but to pass Jackie's glass-panelled office. If she caught a glimpse of you fleeing, bag in hand, you'd be lured back into the maelstrom. So when her head was turned, we'd catapult our bags across her window then combat crawl past her office, hidden by her desk, collect our belongings (which were sometimes strewn across the carpet) and race for the door - anything to avoid a 9pm meeting.

Those meetings! Jackie is crazy about them. Time and location are no hindrance to her obsession. She loves to walk and talk, and you'd find yourself in the oddest places: the loo, a darkened car park,
a change room - pitching story ideas.

Features meetings were at sometimes conducted on the floor as Jackie lay down nursing a crook back. When she realised exercise was impossible due to long work hours, she installed a state-of-the-art treadmill in her office and held meetings while she pounded the "runway".

It was one thing to argue your point over the drone of a powerful machine, but quite another to see your boss in sweats and runners. It was also difficult to concentrate when she came back after having a shower clad from the waist down in a towel, her hair hastily tied up with her security pass. Yet just as distracting were the "glamour" moments - whether she was getting her hair blow-dried in the office or having make-up applied, the talk-fests continued. And yes, it is unnerving trying to discuss a hard-hitting news report with someone while they're in the middle of an eyelash curl.

So what's changed since my time there? I hear the late nights are a thing of the past, although the anywhere/anytime meetings continue - I recently saw Jackie follow our CEO into the men's bathroom to finish a conversation with him. She no longer swipes food but she still shouts, or simply thumps on her office wall for attention. She has mastered the art of changing in her office, removing the need to ever leave it. I see terrified interviewees quivering in reception and I feel like telling them not to worry.

While they may encounter a glimpse of Prada, they're just as likely to face an undressed editor wriggling into her gym gear at her desk. And if the devil gets in her, she just might make them walk
with her to the loo on their way out.

Nicky Briger is the editor of WHO magazine, but spent seven years at marie claire, working her way from sub-editor to deputy editor. She is yet to introduce the treadmill tradition to her current role.
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UK Marie Claire December 1993
Cold Front
Photo Andre Carrara
Stylist Jackie Frank
Model Irene Pfreirrer
Hair Martin Fosscalder
Makeup Mark Hails



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US Marie Claire Winter 1995
Portrait of a Lady
Photo Marc Hispard
Stylist Jackie Frank
Models Estelle Lefébure & Gabriel Aubry
Hair Renato Campora
Makeup Pati Dubroff




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US Marie Claire September 1994
Plush Hour
Model: Tatiana Patiz
Ph: Marc Hispard
Stylist: Jackie Frank
Hair: Renato Campora
Make-up: Diane Kendal


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US Marie Claire September 1994
Plaid About You
Model: Shiraz Tal
Ph: Marc Hispard
Stylist: Jackie Frank
Gair: Ranato Campora
Make-up: William Falkner



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US Marie Claire September 1994
Sexy Mama!
Model: Paulina Porizkova & son
Ph: Robert Erdmann
Stylist: Jackie Frank
Hair: Ray Allington
Make-up: Josee Lafontaine


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US Marie Claire June 1995
Going Nude
Photographer: Robert Erdmann
Model: Bridget Hall
Editor: Jackie Frank
Hair: Ray Allington
Make-up: Diane Kendal



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UK Elle April 1991
Soft Focus
PH: Walter Chin
Model: Yasmeen Ghauri
Stylist: Jackie Frank
Hair: Kevin Marcuso
Makeup: Nori Yasui


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Milan Collections
Ph: Tiziano Magni
Model: Gail Elliott
Stylist: Jackie Frank
Hair: Donald at Jacques Dessange
Makeup: Lloyde



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UK Elle January 1990
Fresh Start
Ph: Pamela Hanson
Model: Leslie Navajas
Stylist: Jackie Frank
Hair: Sam McKnight
Makeup: Jo Strettell


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UK Elle October 1989


Modern Glamour Pt.1
Ph: Eamonn J McCabe
Fashion Editor: Jackie Frank
Models: Vanessa Duve; Sebastion; Rachel Hunter; Famke Janssen; Celia Forner; Illonka Toppenberg; Mystee Beckenbach; Roberta Chirko; Suzanne Lanza; Jeny Howarth
Hair: John Birchall
Makeup: Cindy Joseph




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Modern Glamour Pt.2



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UK Elle August 1990
Strong and Simple
Ph: Marc Hispard
Model: Audrey Benoit
Stylist: Jackie Frank
Hair: Bruce Libre
Makeup: Anne Guilemard


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UK Elle March 1991


Easy Evenings
Model: Helena Christensen
Photographer: Andrew MacPherson
Stylist: Jackie Frank
Hair: John Caruso
Makeup: Agostina Lombardo



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UK Elle December 1990
Sheer Delight
Model: Yasmin Le Bon
Photographer: Robert Erdmann
Stylist: Jackie Frank
Hair: Guido Palau
Makeup: Miranda Joyce



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