NEW YORK — Celebrities including Felicity Huffman, Kim Kardashian, Robin Roberts and Joan Collins can now all say they've walked in models' shoes after participating in The Red Dress Collection runway show on Thursday night at New York Fashion Week.
Well, except for swimmer Dara Torres. She did the catwalk in a stylish one-shoulder cocktail dress by Rachel Roy but carried her silver, sparkly stilettos by Brian Atwood in her hands, shrugging her shoulders and giving a "don't blame me, blame the shoes" face when she struck her pose in front of the cameras.
This show has become an annual tradition at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week at the Bryant Park tents as part of The Heart Truth campaign to raise awareness about heart disease and women. At one point it was spearheaded by former first lady Laura Bush.
It's never about the clothes, although the custom-made asymmetrical dress by J. Crew for Roberts and Huffman's flattering ballet-neck Oscar de la Renta gown were certainly worthy of the red carpet. The vibe at this show, even among the fashion editors and stylists who've sat through at least a half dozen on this opening day of fall-collection previews, is joyful and festive.
Kristin Chenoweth, in a Daniel Swarovski dress, and a Badgley Mischka-clad Jordin Sparks mastered the model walk, and Raven-Symone, in Tadashi Shoji, clearly relished her runway moment. A pregnant Bethenny Frankel mugged in her Isabella Oliver dress to the Supremes' "Baby Love," and singer Estelle, in an elaborate Zac Posen gown, left the audience in awe with super-long eyelashes.
The finale, though, was handled by a pro: Heidi Klum. She wore a slinky John Galliano halter dress — and was a crowd favorite. It was her third year participating, and she's never given the other "models" any advice. They don't need it, she says.
"All these women have never done runway and they get out there and strut their stuff," Klum said backstage. "It's fun and I love all the different fashion. ... This is not modeling with a runway walk and a mean face. It's a different feeling. It's goofy, funny and you ham it up."
Klum's work with heart-disease campaign isn't over — she's the program's spokeswoman — and she has more duties at Fashion Week with the "Project Runway" show on Friday. She'll probably take in two or three more shows as a spectator, she added.