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Jennifer Hudson Joins Key to the Cure

Saks Fifth Avenue has tapped the singer to be an ambassador for this year’s initiative.

Grammy and Academy Award winner Jennifer Hudson’s latest role is fronting Saks Fifth Avenue’s 2011 Key to the Cure campaign.

This story first appeared in the July 8, 2011 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

A familiar face on the fashion scene, the slimmed-down 29-year-old models a limited edition Elie Tahari-designed T-shirt in a public service announcement that will bow in September and October magazines. The Chicagoan will also headline a launch event at Saks before the retailer’s charity shopping weekend Oct. 20 to 23 at all Saks and Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th stores, as well as saks.com. Having belted out songs at the Super Bowl and the Grammys, as well as on “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” Hudson knows how to be a showstopper. In fact, her star wattage is what resonated with Tahari.

Having seen her perform at a recent benefit at the Museum of Modern Art, Tahari said Thursday, “When she got on stage, it was incredible. She captured everybody’s attention and got a standing ovation. Jennifer has amazing soul and spirit in her singing. Her voice is so strong that she takes you with her.”

Saks president and chief executive officer Stephen I. Sadove agreed: “Jennifer Hudson is a talented celebrity with wide appeal. Fans watched her get her start on ‘American Idol’ and a couple years later she was receiving an Academy Award. Jennifer is a natural role model who has become a face for positivity. We look forward to hosting Jennifer in N.Y.C. at a private cocktail party on Oct. 20 to celebrate the launch.”

In its 13th year, the Key for the Cure initiative will benefit the Entertainment Industry Foundation’s Women’s Cancer Research Fund through sales of the $35 T-shirt. As ambassador for this year’s initiative, Hudson said, “Women’s cancers have touched all of our lives. I am proud to join the Entertainment Industry Foundation and Saks Fifth Avenue in their efforts to raise funds for important research through EIF’s Cancer Research Fund. ”

In addition to her red-carpet turns and public performances, Hudson made the talk show scene earlier this year following the March release of her album “I Remember Me.” She is also often spotted in Weight Watchers commercials.

The design for this year’s top, which will make its debut at Saks Oct. 1, is an image of a heart formed by a series of keys. Tahari noted, “The heart is made out of keys that are rough around the edges. This is [intentionally] not a perfect heart because these are terrible diseases we are fighting.”

Since first kicking off a charity shopping weekend 13 years ago, Saks along with its partners and vendors has raised more than $33 million for cancer research and women’s treatment facilities throughout the U.S. The Breast Cancer Research Foundation, EIF’s Cancer Research Fund, the Cleveland Clinic, the Dana Farber Cancer Institute and the Nevada Cancer Institute are among the beneficiaries.

While curing cancer is a seemingly endless battle, Tahari will measure his contribution in a more attainable means. Asked what his personal goal is for Key to the Cure, Tahari said, “To sell out all the shirts in the weekend.”