Katie Couric and Nia Vardalos

NEW YORK — A hodgepodge of celebrities helped kick off Olympus Fashion Week and the Entertainment Industry Foundation’s colon cancer screening initiative Wednesday under the tents at Bryant Park here.<br><br>The timing of the “Be...

NEW YORK — A hodgepodge of celebrities helped kick off Olympus Fashion Week and the Entertainment Industry Foundation’s colon cancer screening initiative Wednesday under the tents at Bryant Park here.

This story first appeared in the September 9, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The timing of the “Be Seen, Be Screened” launch wasn’t lost on Katie Couric, who shared the podium with Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Iman, Nia Vardalos, Carmen Marc Valvo and Patrick McMullan. Fern Mallis, executive director of 7th on Sixth, was also on hand.

“You might be asking what the heck colorectal cancer has to do with fashion week? Let’s face it. That’s one part of the body designers don’t want to accentuate,” she quipped.

But Couric said this was “the perfect runway for us to strut our stuff,” adding that many women do not realize they are at risk.

Olympus, fashion week’s title sponsor, is partnering with EIF’s National Colorectal Cancer Research Alliance to raise awareness about the disease and encourage early screening. Olympus used the occasion to unveil designer accessories that are being auctioned on eBay to benefit the NCCRA.

Valvo, a survivor of the disease, said he promised himself, “If I survive this, I will do something to help other people.” The designer appeared on the “Today” show Tuesday morning with McMullan, who is donating some of the proceeds from the sale of his new book “In Tents,” to the cause. But speaking publicly about his plight does not get easier for Valvo.

“The first time I spoke about it, I thought I was shaky. The second time I had to have a drink, and it was only two or three in the afternoon,” he said, before addressing the crowd. “But I realized it’s not about me.”

Vardalos gave the audience an added incentive. “Do your test, get it over with and go buy some new shoes — or go to Dairy Queen — do something for yourself.”

Bloomberg noted that colon cancer is the second most deadly form of cancer in New York City, but colorectal cancer is curable 90 percent of the time when detected early.

On a brighter note, he said 7th on Sixth generates more than $177 million annually for the city. In addition, about 125,000 out-of-town buyers make the trek here to see the shows and spend an estimated $100 million in restaurants, hotels and other services.

Bloomberg said, “We’ve just got to keep reminding people in this country that New York is a fun place to go,” adding the city spends between $14 million and $15 million on advertising each year. “Las Vegas spends 10 times that,” he added.

Afterwards, Couric joked about Valvo’s assessment of her pairing one of his sleeveless black dresses with a brooch.

I asked him, ‘Carmen, should I have worn the brooch? and he said, ‘You didn’t really need the brooch.”

“But they’re very in,” Couric said, hitting Valvo in the stomach with one of the designer camera accessories.

“I’m his muse,” she continued, mugging for the cameras. “You didn’t know that?”

— Rosemary Feitelberg

load comments
blog comments powered by Disqus