Elsa Klensch, who was among the first to bring fashion to TV screens with CNN’s “Style with Elsa Klensch” in the 1980s, has died at 92 in New York City, CNN has confirmed.
For two decades, she gave CNN viewers a front-row seat to runways all over the world, including New York, Milan and Paris.
“There is nothing as exciting as a good collection. I can go in like many other fashion editors — tired, depressed, fed up,” Klensch said on her show in 2000. “Once those good clothes come down the runway, the whole world changes.”
Klensch was born in Sydney, Australia. She studied journalism at the University of Sydney and began her career in London in the 1960s, but her reporting took her to a number of locations, including Papua New Guinea and Hong Kong, where she worked as a freelance business writer for Women’s Wear Daily. In the 1970s, Klensch worked as a fashion editor and reported for WWD, Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar in New York.
She joined the Cable News Network in 1980, hosting and producing “Style with Else Klensch” until 2001. Klensch’s weekly reports covering the global fashion industry, in which she brought designers in front of the camera, developed a devoted following and made her show one of the network’s most watched in the 1980s.
“When we started, maybe for the first five years, we were the only television crew (at fashion shows),” Klensch said on her show in 2000. “Designers really didn’t understand the concept of television.”
When Klensch arrived at fashion shows everyone was aware, said Walter Imparato, her photojournalist for over a decade. Many designers came to expect her backstage to interview them about their work.
“We rolled up, we were like a rock band,” said Imparato, now a senior photojournalist at CNN. “Photographers were waiting for hours and we blew right in.”
Industry icons and regular households alike watched her show, and it became one of the highest-rated shows of CNN’s weekend programming.
Klensch met her husband, Charles Klensch, who was then the Saigon bureau chief for ABC News, in the 1960s. They married in Saigon during the Vietnam War.