By  on November 7, 2005

NEW YORK — Saks Fifth Avenue has been stepping out with high-profile and frequent special events for a year and now the activities have accelerated.

The retailer kicked off the annual Key for the Cure campaign last month benefiting the Entertainment Industry Foundation's Women's Cancer Research Fund.

On Oct. 28, Saks hosted an English afternoon tea to celebrate an exhibit of Prince Charles' watercolor landscapes, and spotlight its new HTwo restaurant/cafe on the second floor. Saks is selling signed lithographs of the royal paintings, to benefit the Prince of Wales' Charitable Foundation, and has been on a restaurant rollout, in the past couple of weeks opening Snacks on the fifth floor and Chocolate Cafe on eight, selling Charbonnel et Walker from the U.K.

For the Key to the Cure event Oct. 26, Saks transformed its third floor into a dining hall seating 200, with music, dancing and a live auction.

"Here we are on the third floor with absolutely nothing to buy — yet," said Pamela Fiore, editor in chief of Town & Country, as she readied the crowd for the live auction. "Thank you for keeping this great cause top of mind and close to your hearts."

Fiore hosted the evening along with Saks chief executive officer Fred Wilson, who disclosed that Saks had raised more than $20 million in the seven years that it has been at the forefront for the cause. This year's campaign alone, he added, would raise $4 million to $5 million.

"It's a very focused effort," Wilson said, and also Saks' biggest fund-raising effort. Five percent of all sales last Friday and Saturday at Saks stores and the Saks Web site, and 2 percent of Off 5th sales on the same days were donated to the cause. Also, $33 of the $35 price of the glittery T-shirt created by Diane von Furstenberg for the cause was donated. It's been a sellout, according to Saks.

Among the stars that attended Key to the Cure were Helen Hunt, Tatum O'Neal, Debi Mazar, Ally Sheedy and Patricia Clarkson, along with Mark Badgley, James Mischka and Diane von Furstenberg. Also among the crowd were Carmen; Kelly Chapman Meyer, co-founder of Women's Cancer Research Fund, and Jaime and Steve Tisch, who are also activists in the cause. Chapman Meyer said the support would help the fund's biomarker project, which is working to develop a blood test to help detect breast cancer early.

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