Wednesday was crazy. One minute I was getting Maya ready for school, and the next, I was on my way to New York for The Heart Truth’s Red Dress Collection fashion show. Not only did I have a seat for this celeb-studded event, but I also had red carpet access! The show itself was amazing – but went by super fast – and before I knew it, it was time to go back home. As my train sped away from Penn Station, I felt like Cinderella after the ball. All the magic slowly fading away, as the Manhattan skyline disappeared in the distance…
For 8 years now, The Heart Truth has opened Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week with its Red Dress Collection Fashion Show. This annual event raises awareness and encourages women to take charge of their heart health, spreading the message that “Heart Disease Doesn’t Care What You Wear–It’s the #1 Killer of Women.”
Dr. Nakela Cook, a medical officer at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute believes that women are definitely much more aware of this issue now. “What we want to do now is move that awareness into action and really have women take their risk for heart disease seriously, and think about how they can actually prevent heart disease down the line… it’s absolutely never too early and never too late to be concerned about your heart health. We know that even young women, ages 20-39, have at least one risk factor. 60% of them have at least one risk factor that they can really do something about, so it’s important for young women to be engaged in this. It’s also important that older women recognize that their risk of heart disease increases after the age of 55 and it’s never too late to make a difference in your life… we don’t want women to have to suffer in the lives that they live.”
The Red Carpet
Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week takes place at Lincoln Center, which is a big complex in the Lincoln Square neighborhood of New York City’s Upper West Side. Media check in was a mess! Lots of pushing and shoving, with the big names like E!, Access Hollywood, and MTV being escorted in ahead of everyone else.
Gayle King, Oprah’s BFF… I had no idea that she lost both her parents to heart disease at a young age. She said in an interview – “Anytime we can get the word out, I think it’s important to do so. So I wanted to be here. You get to wear a gorgeous dress, you get people to make you look as cute as you can possibly be, and it’s all for a good cause.”
Ali Sweeney was the first. So pretty and so nice, wearing a gown by Tadashi Shoji. In an interview, she said, “An organization like this, an event like this, really encourages women to pay more attention to your health. Many women die from heart-related diseases that are preventable, and that you can – just walking, getting out there, being active, paying a little more attention to your nutrition – you can really keep your heart healthy.”
Eva Amurri, in Chris Benz… she’s Susan Sarandon’s daughter, but a fantastic actress in her own right, and looked flawless. Her dress wasn’t really red, but I loved it! And her hair. And nude Christian Louboutins. All perfect. Chris Benz, the designer of her dress, walked beside her. They seemed to be having a great time!
Julianne Hough looked stunning in a Swarovski gown and necklace! This necklace weighs a couple of pounds and took 150 hours to make. 10,000 stones. She said in an interview that she “didn’t realize until this year how much heart disease affects women, and… so the fact that I didn’t know… well I’m sure that a lot of people don’t realize!”
Laila Ali, in A Pea in the Pod. I would have liked to have seen her in a brighter red, but she still looked absolutely amazing, well into her third trimester. I couldn’t believe it when she told us she’s due on April 1st. “I got a bump in the front and a bump in the back!” she said, and knew just how to work both!
Patti LaBelle, in a Zang Toi kimono-style gown… “So many women are taken away because of heart disease, and we take it for granted that we have a heart for everybody else but ourselves. We take care of everybody… make sure your heart is ticking right. So Thursday I go and have my heart checked out… because it’s important to check it out,” she said.
I saw Dr. Regina M. Benjamin, Surgeon General of the United States, in the first row. I later heard her say in an interview that her priority is prevention. “It’s important to get the message out, particularly to women, that heart disease is the #1 cause of death and that they need to be aware of the symptoms and the signs, and when to call for help. If we can get these celebrities to help us get the message out… that’s what we’re trying to do tonight.”
The celebrities were there to do just that. Each one sashayed down the runway to a different song. Julianne opened the show. She was a natural on the catwalk. Then came Audrina, Eve, and Dania. Linda Gray walked to the Dallas theme song and got a huge applause from the crowd.
Gayle King saw herself on the big screen, and her immediate instinct was to cover her butt with her hands. Funny. She looked great, though. Natasha Bedingfield ended the show, and then stayed on the runway to perform an acoustic version of “Strip Me.”
While everyone was there to see celebrities in their red dresses, I spied a few famous faces among the audience as well. Matthew McConaughey took photos of his wife Camila Alves from the front row. Nearby was the crew from ANTM – Jay Manuel, Miss Jay Alexander, and the hot hot hot photographer Nigel Barker. Carson Kressley sat near the NHLBI acting director Susan B. Shurin, and I heard that Susan Sarandon was there, cheering on her daughter, Eva. Countess Luann de Lesseps from the Real Housewives of NYC stood out in a red satin dress. I saw figure skater Johnny Weir, too.
I didn’t get home until 2am, but it was an incredible experience that I won’t soon forget! You can find highlights from this show, along with other Fashion Week presentations, at the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Youtube Channel, and learn more about The Heart Truth at www.hearttruth.gov.
Which is your favorite dress?
Disclosure: I received an invitation to this event, but I covered all my expenses and was not compensated in any way for this post. All photos above are my own.