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Penelope Cruz, Carolina Herrera Help Saks’ Key to the Cure

Shoppers will be able to buy the the limited-edition Carolina Herrera-designed T-shirt at Saks Fifth Avenue and Off 5th stores, as well as via saks.com.

Penélope Cruz’s next role will be a starring one in Saks Fifth Avenue’s 2012 Key to the Cure campaign.

As the Entertainment Industry Foundation’s ambassador for this year’s initiative, the Academy Award-winning actress will appear in a national public service announcement wearing the limited-edition Carolina Herrera-designed T-shirt. As of Oct. 1, shoppers will be able to buy the $35 shirt at Saks Fifth Avenue and Off 5th stores, as well as via saks.com with all proceeds benefiting EIF’s Women’s Cancer Research Fund. Herrera will host a meet-and-greet at Saks’ Fifth Avenue flagship in New York during the Key to the Cure shopping weekend, which is slated for Oct. 18 to 21.

“Cancer has affected each and every one of us in one way or another and I am thrilled to be involved with this wonderful cause,” Cruz said.

In addition to championing Cruz’s acting in Woody Allen’s new film “To Rome With Love,” Herrera is a loyal fan of Saks, which has supported her since she started her business. Herrera said her design, a map of the world covered with tiny hearts, is emblematic of the cause. “It is important to work all together because this disease goes everywhere in the world, and every family knows someone who has had a problem with it,” Herrera said. “If we all get together to raise money for them, it works. If cancer is detected in the very early stages, it can be cured.”

Cruz’s PSA will appear in the September and October issues of fashion and lifestyle magazines, but Saks executives declined to comment on the media buy. In the 14 years since Saks launched this campaign with its vendors and partners, more than $31 million has been raised for cancer research. The Breast Cancer Research Foundation, EIF’s Women’s Cancer Research Fund, the Cleveland Clinic, Boston’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Nevada Cancer Institute are among the groups that have been bolstered by Key to the Cure.

Saks shoppers have grown to look forward to the Key to the Cure event each year and the retailer has developed a strong following, according to Stephen I. Sadove, chairman and chief executive officer of Saks Inc. Asked if the unsteady economy and the flurry of charitable causes might be factors this fall, he said, “People anticipate it and look forward to it every year. We don’t think there will be any sort of push-back or resistance to it this year,” he said. “It reinforces the philosophy of Saks, which is to give back to our customers. It’s a common way we approach the business. What I love about this initiative is that it gets so much support and matching funds from [some of our] vendors.”

As someone who has pitched in with Sony’s SER breast cancer awareness campaign in South America for many years, Herrera said everyone has time to give to help whatever causes they believe in.

“You have the time. If you have a little bit of discipline, you have the time to do everything — to do your work, to live your life, to help people and to help causes that you believe in,” Herrera said. “There is time to do everything if you are organized. But you should not be doing it to impress other people. You have to want to help.”