NEW YORK — More than 8,000 people shopped Saks Fifth Avenue Wednesday night in style, with cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, a dozen top designers, and the chance to contribute to the annual Fashion Targets Breast Cancer initiative.

From Sept. 18 to Sept. 21, Saks stores nationwide will donate 2 percent of sales to the cause, with a majority of vendors matching the percent. The campaign, done in collaboration with the Council of Fashion Designers of America, kicked off Wednesday morning under the Fashion Week tents in Bryant Park with Iman, Libby Pataki and Saks Fifth Avenue Enterprises’ chief executive Christina Johnson.

"Shop hard today, but don’t forget to spread the word," Pataki told the crowd. She also encouraged attendees to check a box on their tax returns to help earmark dollars for cancer research. Pataki’s mother is a breast cancer survivor, but Pataki had two aunts who died from the disease. She said that one in eight women are diagnosed with breast cancer annually, and 40,000 women are expected to die from the disease this year. The CFDA has helped raise nearly $20 million to raise awareness and fight the disease, said Stan Herman, president of the CFDA.

Mercedes-Benz USA is doing its part by underwriting all the Fashion Targets Breast Cancer events at Saks stores. As part of the deal, the luxury car maker has produced 61 special-edition CLK500 Coupes. The $57,365 car includes a cashmere car blanket, sterling silver key ring, leather note pad and wallet designed by Baldessarini for Hugo Boss, as well as floor mats imprinted with Mercedes and Saks’ logos. Several of the cars, seen in Saks windows here, were sold to help benefit the cause. DuPont Lycra became the first international sponsor, providing resources to bring the program to other countries.

Saks itself has donated $6 million to the cause over a four-year period, making it the store’s most successful charitable undertaking, Johnson said. It’s particularly relevant to Saks, which she said is "all about women and a women’s brand." Of Saks’ 10,000 employees, about 7,500 are women.

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