Jay Johnson -- Opening New York Mercedes-Benz FashionWeek in Bryant Park on February 13th, the Red Dress Collection 2009 show was a great success. I was excited to have been invited for the event to represent Design2Share and Examiner.com along with the rest of the press corps which included the major television networks, TV Guide, Glamour, and all the fashion industry magazines and international media. I joined this mob of backstage press to take videos, snap photos, and conduct interviews with the celebrities -- with heart -- who wore designer red dresses on the Bryant Park runway to symbolize that heart disease can kill 1 out of 4 women.
Backstage preparation was located at the beautiful Celeste Bartos Forum in the main branch building of the New York Public Library (with the famous lion sculptures on the steps). One part was reserved for Beauty, prepping some of the celebs with special hair and makeup. The other part of the room was the red carpet and press interview area. Both were jammed with stars, their entourages, and the amazing folks who made this event run like clockwork.
Here were my personal highlights of the backstage red carpet pre-event, followed by video I shot.
- Cicely Tyson looked petite, feisty, and proud in her long red gown with billowing sleeves designed by talented b. michael.
- 90210's Jenny Garth looked simply amazing with an ultra-sophisticated hairdo and a flowing Grecian-style gown from Badgley Mischka.
- Jenny's partner in 90210 crime, Tori Spelling (Donna Martin!) was breathtaking in a sassy red, pink, and black frock from Betsey Johnson.
- Movie star Vivica A. Fox was statuesque, fierce, and glam in a sparkling Jenny Packham gown.
- I was amazed at the alabaster beauty of Olgympic gold medal figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi, sporting a garnet red Vera Wang.
- TV star Jane Kaczmarek, wearing sexy Michael Kors, and newly-svelte Valeri Bertinelli in Project Runway winner's Christian Siriano scrumptuous red creation hugged one another with glee at the end of the red carpet and strolled out of the room like best buds.
- Susan Lucci, the Queen of Daytime TV on All My Children, was amazing in her vision of a gown by Gustavo Cadile that pooled beautifully on the floor -- and this woman just never ages.
- Olympic swimmer Amanda Beard and gymnast Nastia Liukin added youthful verve to the backstage interviews; they led the way down the red carpet and posed endlessly for the camera.
- I loved Nia Long's Tracy Reese dress and Daisy Fuentes was sophisticated and flowing in her Pamella Roland gown.
When I went into the Mercedes-Benz FashionWeek tent complex, these were my impressions of the runway portion of the Red Dress Collection 2009 show:
- The 10am to 10:30 runway show was packed. There was not a single empty seat and there must have been almost 600 people present, many sporting red in honor of The Heart Truth.
- I spotted J. Alexander (Miss J) from America's Next Top Model and famous runway coach sitting in a front row seat. Earlier, he worked the red carpet sporting a low-slung coat draped just below his shoulders and a flouncy and fierce tied scarf. Come to think of it, most every many in the fashion industry seems to be sporting scarves; I guess I didn't get the scarf memo!
- Project Runway's Tim Gunn opened the show with an introduction about the event and its importance to women's health in raising awareness about heart disease and the importance of reducing personal risks.
- Each celebrity walked the runway to their own signature music, beautifully chosen to match their personality. While they walked the runway and worked the crowd, a video of each model was projected in real time inside a huge heart backdrop on the back wall. The backdrop was also cleverly used to project the name of each celebrity model before she took to the runway and the fashion house she was wearing.
- Beautiful Amanda Bynes opened the show wearing a micro-mini, form-fitting number by Daniel Swarovski. Her tightly wound curls bounced to Beonce's latest hit single. So sexy.
- Cicely Tyson wore a long red gown with billowing sleeves by b. michael, and she stretched out her arms and let the sleeves billow as she worked the crowd with her amazing magnetism. This beloved actress is so petite, yet she made perhaps the strongest presence in the show. Everyone commented on how she radiated great warmth.
- I commented earlier in my Backstage bullets how 90210's Jenny Garth looked simply amazing with an ultra-sophisticated hairdo and a flowing Grecian-style gown from Badgley Mischka. She floated down the runway with her red ensemble gently flowing behind her. Everything about her was sheer perfection (see photo).
- I also loved Jenny's partner in 90210 crime, Tori Spelling who had a very sexy, sassy turn on the runway in her red, pink, and black frock from Betsey Johnson. Her blonde hair was pulled back into a simply pony tail and it swayed playfully as she made her walk.
- Movie star and fashionista Vivica A. Fox was a strong, beautiful runway presence, with hands on her hips and pointing her fingers at the crowd in her red sparkling Jenny Packham gown. Fireworks!
- TV star Jane Kaczmarek, wearing sexy Michael Kors, is a pro on the runway, and along with her actor husband Bradley Whitford (together in the photo at right), they founded the philalthropic Clothes Off Our Back to auction designer clothing to help improve the lives of children across the globe. That's star power in action. Check out the site for auctions of Red Dress Collection clothing from this and past years worn by your favorite celebrity.
- Lynda Carter, the amazing Wonder Woman herself, combined her cabaret act with her runway walk. She sported a sophisticated, stunning Carolina Herrera gown and walked to her own musical recording of When You're Good to Mama from Chicago. This was a real highlight of the show. (Watch for her new At Last CD to be released this June.)
- Olmpic gold-medal gymnast Nastia Liukin was stunningly youth and beautiful in her flowing and leg-revealing Max Azria almost-dress. I heard her being interviewed on the red carpet about Michael Phelps, and she answered graciously that she had not spoken lately to Michael, but it was a good thing that he apologized for his mistakes. She also regretted that she could not see more of the FashionWeek shows in NYC, but she had to hurry back to training camp.
- Young singing sensation, actor, and DKNY Jeans collaborator Hilary Duff looked wonderful in her Donna Karan red dress.
- Cool and calm Medium star Patricia Arquette was a stunning hit in her deep-red gown from Nicole Miller.
- The last to walk the runway was perhaps the highest-megawatt star, CBS News anchor and managing editor Katie Couric. I thought she looked great in her Carmen Marc Valvo gown, and her newly-cut short-short hairdo looked sleek and sophisticated. Like all the stars in this event, she projected amazing HEART, and everyone was appreciative that this extremely busy news anchor could take time off to model a red dress and support women's heart health.
- At the end of the show, all the celeb models took to the runway together. They started to bunch up at the end of the walk and many held hands and hugged each other. The audience went wild as confetti dropped from the ceiling (clever, that confetti -- in the shape of the Red Dress, of course). It was a festive, fabulous wrap to the Red Dress Collection 2009 fashion show.
The Heart Truth:The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHBLI) hosts an ongoing campaign called The Heart Truth that focuses on raising heart disease awareness. Heart disease is the #1 killer of women, so it is important to spread the word not only about heart disease, but also about the risk factors associated and how all women can take action to reduce their risk of heart disease.
Become a part of The Heart Truth Healthy Action Community by pledging to take action to reduce your risk of heart disease and encourage others to join you. Post your Healthy Action badge and share with others while taking action to lead a healthier lifestyle. Choose from any of the following: Quit Smoking, Aim for a Healthy Weight, Get Moving: Exercise Regularly, Eat for Your Heart Health and Know Your Numbers. You can download the badges from NHBLI's exclusive preview page.
Also, join and encourage your friends to join the The Heart Truth fan page on Facebook. Learn of new events in your area, get first hand updates on the 2009 Red Dress Fashion Show, and share your stories with others.