Today, the global marie claire family mourns the loss of Evelyne Prouvost, the dynamic and indefatigable founder of the modern-day marie claire. Evelyne passed away suddenly after a bicycle accident last week and will be laid to rest by family – including her five children - friends and colleagues in France on July 26.
A fiercely private woman, unassuming and understated, she shunned “the vanity fair of glory”, preferring, instead to create an empire from behind the scenes. Her grandfather, Jean Prouvost, originally launched marie claire before the Second World War, but it was Evelyne who relaunched it in 1976 and elevated it to a global publishing powerhouse.
marie claire Australia general manager and founder Jackie Frank first met Prouvost before the first issue of Australian marie claire hit shelves in 1995, at the global marie claire conference. “She pulled me aside for a chat and said it was up to me to forge marie claire Australia’s unique identity,” Jackie remembers. “What is it Australian women want and need, Jackie?’ she asked me. “What are you going to do to make a difference? It’s up to you to make sure that Australian marie claire speaks directly to Australian women.” I thought that was fantastic. She was so inspirational. She didn’t want me to create a carbon-copy of the French edition of the magazine. She wanted something truly unique which would resonate with our audience.”
Prouvost was fiercely proud of marie claire’s journalism and the way it could be harnessed to make a real difference in women’s lives. She trusted her teams and allowed them free rein while offering her unwavering support, summarised by one of her favourite phrases “Si vous y croyez, faites-le. Et si vous avez un problème, appelez-moi.” (If you believe in it, do it. And if you have a problem, call me.
"If you believe in it, do it. And if you have a problem, call me"Evelyne Prouvost
Jackie remembers that she showed a personal interest in marie claire Australia’s groundbreaking Red Dress Campaign which took a serious issue – heart disease for women – and made it fresh and relevant to readers using fashion, celebrity and storytelling flair. But she also knew the power of a spicy sex story, Jackie recalls. “She always pressed on me that women wanted to know more about sex. Her interest in storytelling and speaking directly to whatever it was that women wanted in their lives was legendary.”
Prouvost expanded the French edition of the magazine into the marie claire Group, which now produces unique editions in 30 countries – each with its own style and culture, at her insistence. Her loss will be keenly felt by the marie claire family but she leaves behind a shining legacy: a global brand that celebrates women’s rights and women’s agendas through strong editorial values – led by women who work every day to advance her vision. But it’s perhaps her personal ability to lead and encourage others that will be missed most of all. “Each time we crossed paths she inspired me to do more and make a difference,” says Jackie.