After weeks of Wednesdays full of Hollywood heavyweights (culminating in our Table One sit-down with Mitch Glazer and Kelly Lynch last week) there were more moguls (William Lauder, Jimmy Finkelstein) than celebrities at Michael’s today. However, the talking head contingent was represented by regulars Star Jones and MSNBC’s Jonathan Capehart. Today’s most intriguing table was the one where Jann Wenner was sitting with his son, Gus Wenner. Discussing the finer points of the power lunch, perhaps? Or maybe just tossing around some ideas for the website the 22 year-old publishing scion is now running. No matter — when dad’s the boss, I’m sure there’s plenty of room on that learning curve regardless of the subject.
I was joined today by Laurel Kamen and Christine Irvin, co-founders of The Alloro Collection, a new ready to wear and accessories collection designed for women who have had breast cancer. I was surprised to learn that the collection, which does not sacrifice fashion for function, is truly the first of its kind since there was clearly a need for such an innovation for so long. The idea for the collection came to Laurel on the evening before her own breast cancer surgery a year and a half ago. After being diagnosed with cancer in her left breast, she elected to have a double mastectomy to reduce the risk of a recurrence, a decision which ended up saving her life. When Christine got the call from her longtime friend to tell her about the idea, she was all in. “She could have asked me if I wanted to go in on starting a car wash in Pittsburgh that night, and I would have said yes,” quipped Christine, “but, clearly, this idea was one that was about creating something for women with breast cancer where a real need existed and was a chance to help women restart their lives.”
The Alloro Collection, whose name comes from the Italian pronunciation of Laurel’s name, was launched at a trunk show in Washington, DC, in March and immediately garnered extensive coverage in The Washington Post with a full page story by Robin Givhan and in WWD and W with pieces by Susan Watters. The 20-piece signature collection of tops, dresses and accessories which range from $160 to $250 is designed by Laurel’s cousin, New York-based designer Roedean Landeaux, whose own mother died of breast cancer. (There is also a more afford ably priced line of pieces under $50.)
Almost everything is made in New York, and both Laurel and Christine serve as fit models, with all the special considerations of a breast cancer patient kept top of mind. “There are 20 design elements to be considered,” explained Christine. Laurel outlined them as seen on the impeccably tailored cotton jersey dress she was wearing today. “This dress has a modified cowl neck whose higher contours account for the type of bra, surgical concerns and reconstruction a woman has or doesn’t have. The back flows away from the body, so it’s flattering to all body types. It’s also cotton, so it’s comfortable and breathable to help women dealing with hot flashes and hormonal changes brought on by chemotherapy and radiation.”
Christine also showed me a luxurious silk camisole with a seam in the back so as to not irritate the sensitive under arm area affected by surgery. Their chic structured mesh tote, which “weighs the same as a bottle of perfume,” is ideal for post-op women who are directed not to lift anything more than 10 pounds during the recovery phase of treatment. There’s also a stunning collection of silk scarves from $110-$210 sourced from the same companies who work with European labels Etro and Celine.
Laurel and Christine are clearly passionate about offering their customers the most stylish wardrobe options. The co-founders are reaching out to the fashion industry in hopes of attracting widespread support for their fledgling business. They hope to join forces with the CFDA to co-sponsor a design contest for emerging designers whose mission would be to develop runway ready looks for breast cancer patients. “We are aligning ourselves with organizations whose mission is the same: to empower breast cancer patients,” says Christine. Those on their target list include The Breast Cancer Alliance of Greenwich (Christine lives in Stamford) and Memorial Sloan Kettering who, she notes, have “robust” support programs in place. “Their patients are our clients. It’s the perfect fit.”
The clothes, which bring to mind the styles of several well-established names like Donna Karan (for draping) and Eileen Fisher (for comfort, although Alloro’s pieces are more tailored) are currently being sold on allorocollection.com and at truck shows in cities with major cancer treatment centers. Given their backgrounds as corporate executives, it’s no surprise that in just over a year the women have built an impressive company. Laurel spent 33 years with American Express, rising through the ranks from operations in New York and VP of government affairs in Washington to a top spot in Amex’s office of consumer affairs. Christine had a long and successful career on Wall Street before opening The Townhouse Gallery in Stamford, as well as running the photography/event company Fete Accompli. “We both had tough jobs in our other lives, and this time around we wanted to do something that was fun that also made a difference in women’s lives. Fashion can do that,” said Christine. Twenty-five percent of their profits is being donated to various organizations that work with under served women and those that promote breast cancer awareness. “Our motto is ‘Recapture the Joy,'” said Christine. “If we can do that for women, we’re doing something really important.” I’ll say.
Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:
1. William Lauder and some serious ‘suits’
2. Early show: Attorney Bob Barnett, his partner and “some guy we’re trying to do a deal with.” Act two: SELF EIC Lucy Danziger
3. Alexandre Chemla
4. Allen & Co.’s Stan Shuman
5. Herb Siegel and Frank Gifford
6. Most of ‘The Imber Gang:’ Dr. Gerald Imber, Jerry Della Femina, Michael Kramer and Andy Bergman
7. Christine Irvin, Laurel Kamen, Judy Twersky, Jennifer Bristol and yours truly
8. New York Social Diary‘s David Patrick Columbia and Nina Griscom
9. Author Wednesday Martin
10. Hearst PR princess Deb Shriver with Fred Siegal (Nice to meet you!)
11. Jann Wenner with his son, Gus Wenner
12. Adam Lubin
14. Simon & Schuster’s Alice Mayhew
82. Fashionista Fern Mallis
15. Steve Ratner
16. Star Jones and Dr. Holly Phillips
81. Estee Lauder’s Alexandra Trower, who is busier than ever thanks to the venerated beauty giant’s fabulous new fragrance, Modern Muse. The lush scent is the company’s first new fragrance in a decade and is also the first to be launched under global president Jane Hudis. According to published reports, the company estimates global sales of Modern Muse could reach $95 million. Just thought you’d like to know.
17. Former New York City Council president Andrew Stein
18. Jimmy Finkelstein
19. Risa Drabinsky
20. Producer Joan Gelman with marketing man and political commentator Robert Zimmerman
21. A casually clad Howard Bragman. I never noticed before, but what a great name for a PR man!
22. PR maven Maury Rogoff, who snagged today’s best dressed honors for her stunning white coat and dress and killer red stilettos. Loved it!
24. Journo Dorothy Kalins
25. The always impeccably dressed Jonathan Capehart and Joe Versace. Did you know Jonathan was part of the editorial team from The New York Daily News that won the Pulitzer Prize in 1999 for Best Editorial Writing? Now, you do.
26. Jordan Ringel
27. Producer Chuck Pfeiffer
28. PR powerhouse Susan Blond
29. Early birds: The Wall Street Journal‘s David Sanford and Lewis Stein; The late show: ELLE Decor EIC Michael Boodro with interior designer Elaine Griffin.
Faces in the crowd: “Bar-ettes” Kira Semler and Vi Huse at the bar for their final champagne lunch of the summer. Just asking: who was that gal in the cowboy hat, high boots and minuscule mini? She certainly got our attention. Anyone?
Please send comments and corrections to LUNCH at MEDIABISTRO dot COM.