By  on September 9, 2006

“We don’t put ourselves in the sex-symbol category,” deadpans Robert Duffy.

Now, fashion fans, pinup connoisseurs and the generally curious can judge for themselves, guided by a substantial piece of hard evidence: a giant nude photograph of Duffy and Marc Jacobs, their largest organs on full display. A 6-foot-tall print, shot by Brian Bowen Smith, will be on view at the Gramercy Park Hotel on Monday. Other photos feature more commonly acknowledged sex symbols — Julianne Moore, Christy Turlington, Naomi Campbell, Hilary Swank, Dita Von Teese, Selma Blair, Carolyn Murphy, Winona Ryder, Brandon Boyd, Rufus Wainwright — as well as a group of effervescent male employees, all to be auctioned off at Jacobs’ post-show party. (At press time, Kate Moss had also agreed to pose.) In addition, $20 Ts — each celeb gets his or her own color — will be available at the party and for a limited run at all Marc Jacobs stores.

The point: to raise money and awareness, and perhaps an eyebrow or two, for the New York University School of Medicine Interdisciplinary Melanoma Cooperative Group. As for those “largest organs”? The skin, silly.

“Around the time of the show, we like to use the opportunity to not only celebrate those who worked so hard but also to raise money for our charity,” says Jacobs. “This is the one Robert decided to support.”

Duffy, who spent his high school summers bronzed on the beach, was diagnosed with melanoma four years ago. He designed this project in light of that experience and to honor his recently deceased friend, Jessie Rubin M.D., a dermatologist at the NYU center. “I quit doing drugs years ago. I’ve always had safe sex since we’ve known about AIDS,” he says. “No one should die of a suntan.”

The plan for the benefit came together this summer, after Duffy ran into Murphy aglow with a perfect tan but learned it was out of an Estée Lauder bottle. “She was so tan and gorgeous, and her skin is flawless,” he says. “Obviously, if it’s from the sun, at some point she’s not going to look like that.” Nudity seemed the logical route. “It’s like, what else are you going to do for skin cancer, have everyone wearing Prada?”

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