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First Lady Laura Bush might have been the guest of honor at Friday’s Heart Truth Red Dress fashion show, but the event’s celebrity models were not about to play second fiddle.

Bush will throw open the White House’s doors Feb. 11 to host a reception for designers who have pitched in with the Heart Truth’s Red Dress initiative since its 2002 inception. Fulfilling her role as the campaign’s ambassador, she reminded attendees at Friday’s Red Dress fashion show to look after their heart health and added, “Nothing draws attention like a little red dress.” The First Lady, however was curiously dressed in white, save for the Red Dress pin on her jacket. But her daughter Barbara broke out a red cashmere sweater for the occasion and clapped enthusiastically throughout the show — which was more like a West Village cabaret than a fashion show.

This story first appeared in the February 2, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

“Grey’s Anatomy” actors Sara Ramirez, Rita Moreno and Camryn Manheim were among the catwalkers who vamped things up from start to finish. A few showed ’em they can dance, as well, like former “Chicago” star Lisa Rinna, who shimmied up a storm for her husband Harry Hamlin before turning at the end of the runway.

Some of the dance moves were so extreme the whole affair bordered on a dance-off. So much so that Liza Minnelli’s final turn in a red Halston Original top and black velvet red-trimmed bell bottoms looked tame in comparison. That was until someone handed her a mic and she belted out “New York, New York.”

Interestingly, young songstresses Joss Stone and Ashanti were more reserved. Stone looked downright bashful in her Max Azria Atelier gown often dropping her head as she walked briskly and Ashanti, in a short Tracy Reese number, also kept a fast clip, batting her aubergine-tinted eyelashes. “Curb Your Enthusiasm” star Cheryl Hines lived up to the show’s name, setting aside her Barack Obama adulation long enough to nod at the First Lady.

Molly Sims had trouble keeping up appearances of another sort. She repeatedly yanked at her strapless Daniel Swarovski dress to keep everything in order. Manheim wanted nothing of the sort — gladly showing off her over-endowed cleavage and whipping out some lip gloss from there before posing at the end of the runway. Heidi Klum blew in backstage minutes before the show’s start and said of her barely-there dress. “It’s Marc Jacobs — do you like it? I love it!”

Before the show got rolling, participants lunged into other indulgences. Swarovski, which provided the jewelry and handbags, made the actresses and models who walked in the show an offer they couldn’t refuse.

“I went to the jewelry table and they told me anything I wore in the show today I could keep,” said Jenna Fischer, in Carmen Marc Valvo, as she was being made up by Bobbi Brown. “I said, ‘That sounds great! I’ll take seven necklaces, five rings, and I don’t know how I’m going to do it, but I’m going to wear six pairs of earrings!'”


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