Raising spirits and awareness
Red was the colour du jour at the Heart Truth Fashion Show on Thursday, which had a nearly all-Canadian, all-female roster of stars who donned scarlet dresses by some of the nation's finest designers in what was just as much a celebration of women as it was an event to bring awareness to their No. 1 killer.
The Heart and Stroke Foundation's fifth annual fashion show, which took place at The Carlu, matched a who's-who of Canadians with luxe dresses for a one-time runway show and schmoozefest filled with spirited music and mirth.
Celebrity personalities, including finale models Shannon Tweed-Simmons and husband Gene Simmons -- referred to on the official program as "Rock God/Media Mogul" -- did more than just brave the crowd of hundreds, they hammed it up in their own special way for a wall of photographers at the end of the runway (even giving the audience a kiss).
TV personality Jessi Cruickshank began the parade in a strapless Adrian Wu gown with a voluminous skirt and detailed floral pattern. In contrast to her regal dress, Cruickshank declined the hand of a dapper helper while stepping off the runway, instead heaving her skirt up over her knees before making the climb.
Singer-songwriter Jully Black, who's often eyed in the front rows of fashion shows, also played to the crowd like a pro -- she successfully pulled off a booty dip in stiletto heels before giving it a shake for photographers in her draped jersey Lauren Bagliore dress, which showed off her toned arms and décolletage.
Two-time Olympic champion speedskater Catriona Le May Doan took a few swivels on the elevated runway in her LOVAS cocktail dress in what she called an intimidating affair backstage before the show. "It's putting yourself out of your comfort zone -- which I don't deal that well with," she said. "But you need to do it once in a while."
An openly nervous Doan said it's her duty to help spread the message of heart health awareness, even if it means being out of her element (in rehearsals the fastest woman on ice was asked to slow down on the runway).
Participating in a fun event that remains planted in its serious purpose was enough for "Bones" actress Tamara Taylor, who wore a floaty one-shoulder dress by Mark Belford, to fly from Los Angeles for one jam-packed day. Though she modelled early in her career, Taylor admitted before the show she planned to indulge in a glass of champagne to ease nerves before hitting the catwalk.
Although the show was filled with dancing and laughter, the event's critical cause remained a theme throughout: women need to focus more attention on their wellness and make cardiovascular health a priority in their lives.
As Bobbe Wood, president and CEO of The Heart and Stroke Foundation, said in her opening remarks, women are less likely than men to recognize the symptoms of cardiovascular disease, more likely to have a longer hospital wait time, and less likely to be referred to a specialist when they do get help.
As befitting for a show that fell on International Women's Day, Wood praised the bonds of sisterhood and urged attendees to celebrate "all that the heart gives us."