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NEW YORK — “This is just beautiful, look up,” said Suzanne Johnson, general manager of the Saks Fifth Avenue flagship. “And look at the ice. It’s all pink.”

So what if her feet were cold. Johnson was in the middle of the Rockefeller Center skating rink here, gazing at the Saks facade and the towering NBC headquarters building, along with 250 other guests who kicked off Saks’ annual Key to the Cure campaign supporting breast cancer research, treatment and early detection.

Aside from the carpet, which prevented guests from slipping, but didn’t keep the toes warm, the rink was lighted in pink — the signature color of the campaign.

Oscar winner Renée Zellweger is this year’s ambassador for Key to the Cure, a partnership with Entertainment Industry Foundation’s Women’s Cancer Research Fund. Zellweger couldn’t make the party, but Brooke Shields and Kristin Davis came and now have something in common beyond acting — the eighth floor of Saks, where a giant shoe department opened last month and captured their hearts.

“I’m so excited, I’m shopping just for me,” Davis said. What about buying items for the “Sex in the City” movie? “Oh no,” she said. “That’s all been decided already. Name a designer and I’m wearing it.”

Shields, who is working on an NBC series for next year called “Lipstick Jungle,” in which her character runs a studio, said: “I just got a Saks card last week,” and planned the check out the shoes.

Shields had a personal reason for attending the event. “Early detection is something you can connect to on a personal level. My father died of prostate cancer.” Earlier detection might have prolonged his life, she added.

“Breast cancer is so frightening,” designer Nanette Lepore said. “So many people have been affected.”

Among the other guests were Joely Fisher, Jamee Gregory, Douglas Hannant, Jane Krakowski, Evelyn Lauder, Gretchen Mol, Amanda Peet, Tim Schifter and Jamie Tisch.

Marion Laurie, a founder of the research fund, said, “One out of eight women get breast cancer. It’s not changing, but it is being detected earlier.” She said one research project involves trying to determine if breast cancer can be detected through a blood test.

This story first appeared in the October 19, 2007 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

“In eight years we’ve raised $23 million partnering” with the Entertainment Industry Foundation, said Saks chief executive officer Stephen I. Sadove. “I send out a letter to my vendors and they all say they will contribute.”

Saks contributes 2 percent of sales at all its stores from Thursday through Sunday.

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