Fashion line for cancer survivors set to launch



THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Published — Thursday 21 March 2013

Last update 21 March 2013 2:18 am

| نسخة PDF Print News | A A

Many thoughts flash through a woman’s mind on the eve of a double mastectomy — most prominently fears about her mortality. But in the thicket of complicated emotions that crowded Laurel Kamen’s brain as she sat in her Kalorama apartment contemplating her diagnosis of breast cancer, she also had to reckon with fretfulness about her future wardrobe.
A woman of accomplishment and intelligence, who is neither shallow nor narcissistic, Kamen had none of the tortured ambivalence about fashion and style that haunts so many women of her stature. Kamen, a Chicago native and a former executive at American Express who had spent a chunk of her formative years in New York, considered fashion an expression of confidence and control. Put simply, she liked looking good and she wanted to continue looking good after both of her breasts were removed and she adjusted to the contours of a torso not reconstructed with either silicone or saline.
In preparation for her surgery, Kamen had been prowling the Internet on a pre-shopping spree, searching for clothes that would flatter what would soon be her new shape but that would also be comfortable and practical enough to wear while she was recuperating. She didn’t find any clothes that met her criteria — sophisticated, grown-up — and out of her frustration came a business plan. She decided to create a line of clothing for women who have had breast cancer. The collection would see them through their recuperation after a mastectomy. And it would flatter their post-operative figures — whether they chose reconstructive surgery, prosthetics or nothing.
Sadly, this is no small market. According to the American Cancer Society, there will be 232,340 new cases of invasive breast cancer diagnosed in women this year. But Kamen’s research turned up few good, accessible fashion options for them — or her.
“I knew I’d look different. I knew I’d have a long recovery,” says Kamen, who is married to Washington Post writer Al Kamen. “There were fleeces and T-shirts and goopy-looking shirts. But I didn’t want to leave the world of fashion.”
Kamen’s first call — filled with indignation and determination — was to Christine Irvin, who has been her friend for 30 years. Their meeting was a New York cliche. They bonded on the No. 1 subway train en route from Lower Manhattan to Penn Station and, ultimately, shared a summer house in the Hamptons. Irvin’s phone rang around 5:30 in the evening as she was headed to the Museum of Modern Art.
“I have this great idea for a business,” Kamen said.
“I’m in,” Irvin said.
In hindsight, Irvin says with a laugh: “Am I really going to turn down my best friend the night before she has a mastectomy? She could have been planning to start a car wash.”
Approximately 15 months after Kamen’s surgery — after many thousands of dollars invested, many cold calls in search of advice, many fit dilemmas solved — the Alloro fashion line debuted yesterday on Capitol Hill. It will have a New York trunk show soon after. It’s the product of three friends and their unlikely personalities: Kamen, a Washingtonian with a devotion to fashion; Irvin, a Wall Street fixer and organizer with a creative streak; and Roedean Landeaux, a New York designer without fealty to seasonal trends.
Alloro (Italian for laurel) is not stuffed with frocks in breast-cancer-awareness pink. But the privately funded company will give 25 percent of its sales to breast cancer research. The line is not matronly, but it doesn’t fall prey to disposable fads. It is not medicinal, but it makes allowances for all of the ways in which modern science damages the body in its attempts to fix it.
“The pretty part was our first jumping-off point,” says Landeaux, who is Kamen’s cousin. “There are no hidden prosthetics things. It’s fashion.” Indeed, several of the pieces — an open-knit sweater and a pair of leopard-print trousers — are reminiscent of looks from Landeaux’s signature collection, which she sells through her Greenwich Village boutique. Silk charmeuse camisoles in shades of violet and sea foam, priced at $ 125, float away from the body on superfine straps. And a $ 250 cherry-red bolero has small interior pockets to hold drainage paraphernalia during the early days of recovery.

Kamen came up with a list of 20 bullet points — post-surgical issues — that the collection would address, from a limited range of motion and prohibitions on carrying anything weighing more than 10 pounds to fingertips numbed by chemotherapy. So, for example, a mesh handbag weighs, as Landeaux says, less than a bottle of perfume, and a linen blouse employs black lacquered snaps instead of buttons.
“I think we’ve done some great things that address all the criteria for these women — physically and psychologically,” Landeaux says.
When Kamen showed the collection to Neiman Marcus — more for feedback than to solicit sales, as the clothes are sold through trunk shows now — Martha Slagle, the general manager of the Mazza Gallerie store, was impressed enough to host a luncheon for Alloro’s founders along with, as they say in the land of policy and wonkery, stakeholders.
“We’re very conscious that a lot of our customers have gone through breast cancer,” Slagle says. The luncheon celebrating Alloro “was to raise awareness that people out there are doing this.”
“We see it as community service,” Slagle says.
Everyone should be able to participate in the fashion circus — breast cancer survivors, too. “It’s for them,” Kamen says. “It’s to make them feel a little joy.”

What's happening around Saudi Arabia

JEDDAH: The father of the suicide bomber who blew himself up in a mosque in Kuwait has blamed “evil” forces for his son’s behavior.Sounding confused and sad, Sulaiman Al-Gabbaa, the father of Fahad Al-Gabbaa, said: “An evil hand has sent my son to hi...
JEDDAH: The Saudi Traffic Department has denied that it is introducing new license plates for cars.It said hackers posted pictures of the supposedly new license plates on its Twitter account on Sunday. The department said the news, which went viral,...
JEDDAH: The Al-Haramain Train project is described as the largest public transportation project in the Middle East. This vital and strategic project is one of the implementation schemes of the mass expansion of the Saudi railway across the country.Th...
JEDDAH: The number of marriages between expatriates and Saudis has dropped 84 percent to 1,928 since the start of this Islamic year that began on Oct. 24, compared to the same period the previous year.The Ministry of Justice said that there were 12,0...
JEDDAH: The General Authority for Civil Aviation (GACA) launched the idea of a project called Watani to link all parts of the Kingdom by air by beefing up activities at important provincial airports.Capt. Abdul Hakim Badar, assistant vice president a...
JEDDAH: Unofficial marriage is a refuge for a divorced mother to lead a married life while keeping her children in her custody but without the knowledge of the former husband who could demand the custody of the children if he learned about the ex-wif...
JEDDAH: Makkah’s health department has set up a committee to verify the sick leave certificates of employees.The department stated it would apply government regulations on sick leave, which includes people providing the address of the facilities wher...
RIYADH: The directorate of roads and transport has registered 20 cases of violations worth SR24,500 in Al-Qassim, where the transport ministry continued its surveillance drive against the companies in the transport business.According to the directora...
RIYADH: The implementation of an integrated health plan to combat MERS has resulted in a sharp drop in cases, with only one out of 736 samples testing positive for the contagion in the Kingdom in the last six days. Health Ministry spokesman Dr. Khal...
RIYADH: Muslims must cut traditionally high electricity use during Ramadan in line with the principles of austerity and self-control they are supposed to adopt in this month, economists say.Economist Al-Sadeq Idris said energy use increases during Ra...
JEDDAH: The Ministry of Commerce and Industry will begin next Tuesday to check whether companies are complying with new laws requiring them to place proper price labels on all their products.It is mandatory for companies to stop using phrases such as...
RIYADH: Minister of Islamic Affairs Saleh Al-Asheikh chaired the first meeting with Yemeni scholars to exchange ideas on how to strengthen their role in restoring peace in their country.The first Saudi-Yemen scholars meeting, dubbed the “outreach sch...
RIYADH: To cope with the growing number of applicants (boys and girls) at technical colleges that reached 126,023 last year, a state-run organization launched an online unified portal to ease the enrolment procedures.According to the Technical and V...
RIYADH: A senior government official from Dhaka, who visited Riyadh last week, has sorted out technical issues to expedite issuing 1.5 million machine readable passports (MRP) to Bangladeshi expatriates in the Kingdom. Information and Communication T...
JEDDAH: Jeddah municipality is keen to provide health and food security to residents and visitors of the city, and they are continually conducting inspections of food stores, restaurants, markets and food storage facilities to avoid any violations by...

Stay Connected

Facebook