By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS
NEW YORK — They smiled, laughed, danced and sang down the runway.
Unlike the traditional fashion show featuring solemn supermodels, this was a catwalk of celebration.
Actresses, musicians, talent show hosts, reality stars and survivors of cardiovascular disease walked in red dresses — and one pantsuit — created by designers specifically for the Go Red For Women Red Dress Collection.
The show kicked off New York Fashion Week which started Thursday despite a winter blizzard blanketing the city for most of the day. Held at the Hammerstein Ballroom, this year’s presentation was hosted by actress Katie Holmes and featured a performance by singer Rachel Platten, whose hit “Fight Song” is the anthem of the AHA.
Wearing a wine-colored fringed gown embellished with crystals, Holmes spoke of the importance of awareness in preventing cardiovascular disease and told the audience that it kills a woman every 80 seconds. She reminded the guests of why they attended the show.
“Memories are why,” she said. “Fun is why. And a great red dress is why.”
The celebrity models were a diverse group mirroring the randomness of how cardiovascular disease strikes.
Lorraine Toussaint, who stars on Fox’s “Rosewood,” elegantly floated down the runway in a kimono-sleeved dress by Macy’s fashion incubator designer Masha Titievsky.
Country singer and reality star Jessie James Decker wore a youthful, ruffled gown by Jay Godfrey. She sang along to “Queen of Hearts” as she walked.
Actresses Juliette Lewis (in Christian Siriano) and Lauren Holly (in Escada) exuberantly played to the crowd with their high-energy struts down the catwalk.
Maureen McCormick (in a satin pantsuit by Emilio Sosa), who played eldest daughter Marcia on “The Brady Bunch,” walked in honor of the late Florence Henderson, who played her mother on the iconic television show. Henderson, who had also been a red dress model, died last year of heart failure.
Other celebrity models included: Peyton List (in Naeem Khan) of Disney’s “Bunk’d”; Diane Guerrero (Gustavo Cadile) of “Orange is the New Black”; Jeannie Mai (John Paul Atakar) of “The Real” talk show; CCH Pounder (in Bethany Meuleners, another Macy’s fashion incubator designer); Jazz Jennings (in Mac Duggal), a transgender advocate and star of TLC’s “I am Jazz.”
Rachel Platten appeared on the runway in a deep red Pamella Rolland dress, stopping halfway down the runway to mouth “I love you,” to 9-year-old Sofia Montoya, a young cardiac arrest survivor from Half Moon Bay, California, whom she met backstage prior to the start of the show.
Platten treated the guests to a pitch-perfect rendition of her hit as a finale, an uplifting tribute to an audience supporting a cause beyond fashion.
The Red Dress Collection is presented each year during the New York Fashion Week spring collections. The runway event features celebrities paired with designers who create a runway look especially for them to wear for the show.
Created at first as The Heart Truth show, the red dress was launched as the national symbol for women and heart disease awareness at New York’s Fashion Week in February 2003 in partnership with America’s top fashion designers. The show during Fashion Week put the issue of women and heart disease in the national spotlight during Heart Month, reminding the public that heart disease and stroke cause one in three women’s deaths each year, killing one woman every 80 seconds.
Since 2014, the event has been hosted by the American Heart Association as the Go Red For Women Red Dress Collection with Macy’s as the presenting sponsor.
In past years, celebrity models have included Kris, Kendall and Kylie Jenner, Giada DeLaurentis, Hoda Kotb, Zendaya, Barbara Eden, Rosie O’Donnell, Laverne Cox, Alexa Rae Joel, Olivia Culpo, Fran Drescher, Misty Copeland and Kelly Osborne.
Designers who have participated include Zac Posen, Oscar de la Renta, Carolina Herrera, Marchesa, Badgley, Carmen Marc Valvo and Donna Karan.