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Caroline Bernier: The Producer Behind “The Fashion Hero”

Creator Fashion - Caroline Bernier

Caroline Bernier is from Montreal, but a stellar career in beauty and fashion has taken her everywhere in the world where she has produced, directed, choreographed and promoted hundreds of events for major brands, from Victoria’s Secret to Miss Universe. Her latest project, The Fashion Hero: A New Kind of Beautiful, is a reality TV show where everyone is welcome.

We spoke to her on the phone to discover more about this amazing woman’s spark and finesse when it comes to crafting meaningful and eventful moments in front and behind the cameras. 

Fashion Beauty Runway: Where does your passion from fashion come from? 

Caroline Bernier: I come from a family where fashion wasn’t really important. It’s something I discovered on my own. I’ve always been attracted by beautiful things, clothes that are well made. 

My mom used to give me a small budget for my clothes, but I would make those choices very fashionable ones. I knew what was coming next by studying what the trendy boutiques were showcasing. And that’s what I wanted! I didn’t go to school wearing my normal little shoes, so I would change them before leaving the house in the morning. 

FBR: How did all that lead you to start a career in show business? 

CB: By the time I was in high school, I started organizing fashion shows. That’s when I met Tony Green, one of Canada’s most prolific disco producers with whom I released a single called ‘Hold Me, Touch Me’ in 1977. The response was absolutely amazing! 

I was a young singer, I was popular, and people wanted me to organize events. “You’d be great at this,” is what I was told over and over. So I was emceeing beauty pageants and other contests. I never took dancing lessons, but I had an intuition about what looked good on stage. Again, it was like my fashion sense. I just felt what worked. 

FBR: How did you expand your career in the United States? 

CB: It’s always a question of being at the right place, at the right time, and things just fall into place. Everything I’ve done throughout my career has made me meet people who brought me other places to discover new horizons and other facets of my personality. 

I was working for the Miss Universe organization when there was a choreographer missing and someone asked me, on the spot, to replace them. Because I had seen and been involved in so many shows, I figured it would be easy enough. I ended up working for three Miss Universe pageants at the time. 

That led me to become a producer for one of the segments on ‘Star Search.’ I’ve learned everything in my career by relying on my instinct, on my intuition. 

After that, I was asked to become International Director for the Miss Hawaiian Tropic International pageant, and I brought along Quebec designer Jean Airoldi to create the swimsuits and the clothes for the contestants. I wanted the looks to be more fashion-forward, with long gowns and beautiful beach cover-ups. 

The Hawaiian Tropic competition was very popular because all the girls could enter. Even the ones that are five feet tall. 

That was a period in my life when I was travelling a lot on many beauty pageants and fashion shows. 

FBR: When did you feel the fashion and beauty industries set unreasonable expectations, and why did you decide to do something about that? 

CB: In some of the competitions I was organizing, I met these amazing women who had impressive careers. Some of them were accountants, lawyers, actuaries. They wanted to model but were always rejected because they weren’t classic ‘model material’ with specific measurements and height. 

Even myself when I was a singer, I went to a casting call for eyewear and was told I wasn’t tall enough. Despite the product only being shown on my eyes! I thought that was completely absurd. 

As a producer I was always on stage, telling girls how to pose, how to walk. But then one day I happened to go backstage and saw that most of the models were literally starving and dying of thirst. They were specifically ordered not to drink water because it would make them look bloated. I was in shock! 

So I started bringing backstage a contraband of bananas, apples and water. These girls only wanted everybody to love them. Why beat people over the head and tell them they have to be a certain way?

I started to ponder on what was going on. The entire world saw only beautiful women, but I was seeing a very ugly side of the industry. 

My own son, Bruno Morisset, who worked as a broadcaster on Rythme FM, suffered from body dysmorphia. He was basically unhappy his entire life. 

I wanted to create something new that would break away from everything in beauty that’s unattainable, unrealistic, and unhealthy. Something where everybody would feel welcome, and go from rejected to respected. 

FBR: That’s where the idea from The Fashion Hero came from? 

CB: Exactly. 

FBR: So tell us a bit about The Fashion Hero. What is it, and how did you get this huge project off the ground? 

CB: I created The Fashion Hero in 2015. At the time, I had been working in the beauty and fashion industry for over 25 years, to finally realize that these industries had gone on a marketing craze, dictating what a person should wear and how they should look, alienating a vast majority of the population. 

A New Kind of Beautiful presented by The Fashion Hero is a global TV series breaking down barriers in the beauty and fashion industry by encouraging real people to be confident in who they are. This is the world’s first lifestyle competition series dedicated to helping people discover what makes them unique and provides them with the platform to share their message with the world. The reality TV show celebrates diversity and welcomes all sizes, shapes, colours and ethnicities. 

We produced the pilot season in 2015, and Jason Rockman from CHOM was our host. It made its debut on U.S. syndicated networks that same year. 

FBR: You are already at season 3 of The Fashion Hero. How difficult has it been to finance such a big internationally produced reality TV show? 

Creator Fashion - Caroline Bernier - AJ McLean
AJ McLean, Host and Co-Producer

CB: I started by attending the Mipcom Cannes, which is a huge gathering of TV and entertainment executives, including thousands of buyers of series and new concept shows. I sent out about one thousand invitations and 15 people responded to view our pilot. But sometimes all you need is the one person who will change everything. 

For season 2 we had a true star as our host, AJ McLean of the Backstreet Boys, one of the most successful boy bands in history. With his first-hand understanding of the pressure of the industry, his experience and authenticity make him the perfect guide for our contestants. So when investors see the tight-knit, talented team we have it makes them feel secure. 

FBR: Tell us about these investors… 

CB: In my career, I’ve always been blessed with knowing a lot of people, and finding the right partners at the right time. Someone put me in contact with Tommy Baltzis, the CEO de Whitehaven, a private, independent investment group from Montreal who likes to do things differently. I guess they were inspired by my passion and drive since one of their mantras is to challenge the status quo. 

FBR: What’s in the cards for the future of The Fashion Hero? 

CB: Well, we have a huge announcement that was made this week! AJ McLean is coming on board as a co-producer with me. He has so much belief in this project that he wants to be personally involved in the idea of promoting diversity, inclusivity, and body positivity within the fashion industry. It was a huge undertaking when I thought about this concept eight years ago, and look where we are now. 

FBR: It’s impressive, and definitely inspiring. We’re so happy to be showing this new angle of fashion and beauty to our readers. Thank you so much for your time with us today, Caroline. It truly has been a delightful and deep conversation!