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It wasn’t your typical industry dinner, when Michael Gould, Bloomingdale’s chairman and chief executive officer, recently hosted a formal event, simply to thank those who helped the store raise $1.6 million to fight breast cancer.
Gould rose to give a heartfelt toast, as about 40 guests sat around five tables at Le Cirque on Oct. 17. First he gave a salute to Leonard Lauder, chairman emeritus of the Estée Lauder Cos. and acting chairman of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, who couldn’t make it to the dinner because he was detained in Doha. Then Gould turned to the real guest of honor, who was also absent, the late Evelyn Lauder. “The memory of Evelyn shines brightly in this room, and shines brightly across the street,” he said, referring to Lauder headquarters, where the founder and driving force of the BCRF and Breast Cancer Awareness program had worked with her husband Leonard. Her example signifies “a sense of giving back to the community and a sense of who we are in life.”
Elie Tahari had stopped by earlier for cocktails. The dinner crowd included top executives from Estée Lauder Cos. — William Lauder, John Demsey, Lynne Greene and Jane Hertzmark Hudis — officials and doctors from the BCRF, and others who helped in different ways.
Gould singled out those from Lauder, BCRF, Blomingdale’s executives who had produced a number of fund-raising projects, like the Pink Book and thanked others. Marisa Acocella Marchetto had made a drawing as a special tribute to Evelyn Lauder. Other allies in the overall effort were Linda and Bob Carey, founders of The Tutu Project. To raise money to fight the disease, which had afflicted his wife, Bob Carey produced a photo book, entitled Ballerina, consisting of bizarre self-portraits showing his stocky frame dressed only in a pink tutu. He was posed in odd locations, like on the main floor of Bloomingdale’s flagship. That shot was included in the Pink Book and Ballerina was sold in the store and on Bloomingdale’s Web site to raise needed funding.
Since joining forces with the BCRF in 2005, Bloomingdale’s has raised $4.5 million for the organization, $1.6 million of the total in the last year. This has allowed the store to support four medical researchers and give additional grants to 15 cancer research centers in communities where Bloomingdale’s has stores. Despite moments of levity, like when Carey’s decidedly un-balletic pose was flashed on a screen, Gould kept his eye on the true point of the event.“We have a purpose here,” he said, “and the purpose is to make the world better for others.”