By  on June 15, 2009

NEW YORK — Michael Kors and Heidi Klum, “Project Runway” collaborators, are extending their rapport to a charitable cause.

The duo has been tapped by Saks Fifth Avenue and The Breast Cancer Research Foundation for Saks’ 2009 Key to the Cure campaign — with Klum serving as this year’s ambassador and Kors designing the limited edition T-shirt that benefits the cause.

The public service announcement, featuring Klum wearing Kors’ T-shirt, will appear in fashion and lifestyle magazines in September and October. The $40 T-shirt will launch at Saks Fifth Avenue stores, its Off 5th units and on saks.com on Oct. 1, with a part of the proceeds going to local charity partners.

For Kors, participating in this campaign also means much to him personally. The mother of Lance Le Pere, executive vice president and creative director at his company and Kors’ partner, passed away from breast cancer, and the designer has had many people in his family, as well as his friends, affected by the disease.

Kors was full of praise for the program and Evelyn Lauder, who founded Breast Cancer Research Foundation in 1993, for their achievements. “The number of advances have been pretty remarkable in the last few years, and I think that keeping the noise about the situation up is so important,” he said. “If this is a way that I can give back and at the same time design something that perhaps makes you feel a little glamorous and puts a bit of a smile on your face, it is a triple win-win.”

“It’s important that we all work continuously to find the cure for cancer and to find answers,” Klum said. “This year’s T-shirt is fabulous and not just because Michael, my fashion inspiration and great friend, designed it. It’s fun and comfortable and really a great gift for yourself or a family member or friend that you can give to support a very worthy cause.”

The designer drew design inspiration for the T-shirt from both Klum and Lauder. “In my mind, I was thinking, what do these two women have in common?” he said. “Both of them have a great sense of humor, they both appreciate glamour. I was playing around with it, and when I was down in Florida, I thought, ‘I love the idea of Palm Beach punk, because I always love the idea of taking a panther print, and in pink, it is feminine and glamorous. Every woman I know wants to live in white jeans, so if you can throw it on with white jeans or a skinny black pant, it’s the perfect thing.”

Once again, Saks is organizing a special charity shopping weekend around the initiative. This year, it will take place Oct. 15 to 18, and Saks plans to donate 2 percent of sales up to $250,000 to local and national women’s cancer organizations and research centers. In addition, Saks will make a $500,000 contribution to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

Over the past 10 years, these shopping weekends at Saks have generated more than $32 million toward cancer research.

Klum and Kors join a lengthy list of celebrities and designers who have participated in this campaign. Gwyneth Paltrow was its ambassador last year, and Karl Lagerfeld designed the special T-shirt. Others have included Hilary Swank with a T-shirt by Diane von Furstenberg, Renée Zellweger with Juicy Couture, Glenn Close with Oscar de la Renta, Charlize Theron with Marc Jacobs and Nicole Kidman with Stella McCartney.

“We really could not have thought of a better and more natural collaboration for the campaign than to have Michael behind the design of the shirt and Heidi as the face of it,” Saks’ chairman and chief executive officer Stephen I. Sadove said. “I believe that their partnership for KTTC will be another tremendous success that people will really embrace and one that helps Saks keep the momentum in our efforts to raise money for cancer research and treatment.”

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