New York Fashion Week breast cancer runway show! AnaOno, Metavivor, Cancerland: NYFW metastatic research benefit.

pink mongolian lamb wool fur coat jacket

If you think NY Fashion Week is all about frivolity… then you’ve never been to a breast cancer fashion show. 

In February 2020, I had one of the most meaningful weekends of my life cheering on bestie Molly, a Stage II breast cancer thriver, at NYFW! What a moment to see her and fierce mom Deborah (who also beat the disease) strut the runway.

New York Fashion Week AnaOno x Cancerland

I was moved to see a diversity of models — representing every stage from pre-vivor to metastatic — slay the catwalk in AnaOno (a lingerie and clothing line for breast cancer thrivers).

This meaningful fashion show partnered with Cancerland, with 100% of proceeds benefiting METAvivor (to conduct much-needed research for metastatic breast cancer treatment).

I hope you enjoy this very special report from New York Fashion Week 2020. (Please see photo credits at end.)

breast cancer survivors fashion show models

1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime, and 1 in 3 will have metastasis. These facts hit hard for me, as I have several close friends who were diagnosed with breast cancer — including writer Elizabeth Wurtzel, who passed in January (you can read my tribute to Lizzie here).

Molly Weingart has been one of my closest friends since we met on Halloween, at Columbia University. Years later, I still remember the feeling of shock when she told me she was diagnosed with breast cancer, at age 32. Her mom Deborah, above, also had and beat breast cancer 25 years ago. (Their walk was supported by Penn Medicine and V Health and Wellness.)

travel bloggers guns shooting range shotgun rifle

There’s no other way to put it: Cancer blows. I visited Molly in Philly during her second round of chemotherapy, and the side effects were unexpectedly rough. And we were traumatized by her experience at the hair salon, where she was forced to shave her head due to chemo. (Since then, I’ve been growing out my hair and appreciating the ability to maintain a long length!)

Molly is a warrior, and she’s now in remission. We celebrated by relaxing and shooting guns in the Dominican Republic!

Everything came full circle in NYC, the place where we met and attended many fab fashion events. In 2020, she and her mom were chosen to walk the runway for the AnaOno x Cancerland x Metavivor benefit show.

skandinavik fur coats review, mongolian sheep jacket

The annual NYFW catwalk has an important goal: to raise funds for metastatic breast cancer research and treatments, while changing public perception of the condition.

At the same time, this is New York Fashion Week — so everyone is encouraged to dress flamboyantly and have a fabulous time!

I debuted my Skandinavik pink Mongolian lamb fur coat, and it received a lot of compliments. The sheep are merely sheared to make this luxurious jacket, which comes with a hood and keeps you unbelievably cozy. You can find this statement coat and more, in multiple striking colors, on Skandinavik Fur’s site.

I’m also wearing a bats beret and heart cardigan from Sourpuss Clothing, and snakeskin platform boots by Acne.

stephen einhorn skull jewelry, dainty skulls bangle silver bracelet

I adore my new dainty skull silver bracelet, from Stephen Einhorn. The bangle slips on easily, and has a minimalist yet edgy style that goes with all outfits. The skeleton’s details are beautifully etched — House of Einhorn’s fine Gothic jewelry is always to die for.

stephen einhorn earrings pearl hoops

I’m living for Stephen Einhorn‘s medium pearl hoop earrings, which stand out against my dark purple hair. These timeless hoops instantly add a dash of Goth glamour.

(Close-up on my voodoo heart cardigan and bat hat from Sourpuss Clothing.)

nyfw fashion bloggers backstage makeup

While I was taking street style snaps, Molly and her mom were hard at work backstage. Throughout the weekend, they were filmed for a documentary, and spent all day doing photoshoots, fittings, and runway walk lessons.

ana ono underwear intimates lingerie fashion show

It was wonderful to meet the models and supporters, who embodied the fashion show motto of “#Fearless.” The ladies modeled glamorous garments by AnaOno Intimates and outerwear by Madison Chamberlain. Each look was personalized to fit their unique story of experiencing breast cancer. 

new york fashion week breast cancer model clothing

Molly gives off J Lo vibes in this custom camo jacket, fishnets, and mesh panel black underwear. Love how they gave her a high braided ponytail and long eyelashes.

She gives us a peek of her tattoos, by Chicago-based artist David Allen. He specializes in tattooing women who had a mastectomy and/or reconstruction, transforming their scars into swirling flowers.

AnaOno fashion show benefiting stage iv metastatic breast cancer

This year, the breast cancer fashion show focused on diversity, and bridging the gap between early and late-stagers. The women represented a broad spectrum of ages, backgrounds, and stages of breast cancer — including previvors that had a preventative mastectomy.

angel orensanz foundation new york architecture event space

The AnaOno x Project Cancerland x Metavivor fashion benefit was such a success that the tickets were oversold. Everyone eagerly crowded into the Angel Orensanz Center, a former synagogue that has become a gorgeous event and performance space.

breast cancer survivor inspirational speaker

The show got off to a rousing start, with several heartfelt speeches. I was moved by the speakers, who shared their fears and hopes at every stage of breast cancer — from preventative surgery to recurrence and metastasis.

dana donofree anaono designer mastectomy Breast Reconstruction Bras

On the right, I was happy to finally meet Dana Donofree, creator of AnaOno. When she was diagnosed with ductal carcinoma, she realized there was a lack of beautiful lingerie and loungewear for women who experienced breast reconstruction, breast surgery, or other conditions causing discomfort. As a solution, she launched her fashion line.

breast cancer survivors lingerie underwear bras

More than 30 models “werked” the NY Fashion Week catwalk, modeling AnaOno’s spectacular designs. Such an inspiration to see these women take back their bodies and celebrate living. 

fashion bloggers front row new york fashion week show nyfw

Unlike a typical New York Fashion Week show, this was a vivacious and touching occasion. It was fun to sit front row, and cheer our hearts out for the breast cancer thrivers.

mastectomy breast cancer survivor model walking catwalk

The models showed a wide range of expressions and walks, each expressing their feelings about living with breast cancer — from anger to sadness and courage.

fearLESS AnaOno x Cancerland METAvivor fashion benefit event

As each woman appeared, words flashed behind her that conveyed her greatest fears. Walking the catwalk let her own her vulnerabilities, and become fearless.

project cancerland modeling breast cancer lingerie

Knowing Molly’s journey firsthand, I screamed so loud when she appeared!

Her full statement: “I walk to use my body as a form of protest, to fight the stereotype that bravery means we should hide our fears related to this illness. All our fears are valid, from death to losing our hair.”

 2020 Cancerland AnaOno Fashion Show

When she reached the end of the runway, she slowly took of the jacket and stood strong, revealing her bare chest and tattoos.

Molly describes the moment: “As that jacket made by Madison Chamberlain slid down my shoulders, I felt years and years of shame slide of my body in seconds. My story is in body and I don’t have to carry it.”

Women With Breast Cancer Walk runway new york fashion week

Molly shares her full story, from being diagnosed to getting tattooed by David Allen, here.

“The scars felt like a continuous reminder of what I had lost, what I would never be or do. I was excited to see something beautiful instead of destruction. I didn’t expect or even believe that getting tattooed by David could make me feel beautiful again— it did—or that instead of feeling like a medical oddity, I would feel like I’m a walking piece of art and my body is the canvas.”

mother daughter breast cancer survivors

What an emotional moment when Molly’s mother, Deborah Spitalnik, joined her on stage for a hug — and then walked the runway herself.

Deborah’s story: “25 years ago, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was more painful and frightening to see my daughter have breast cancer. I walk to support my daughter, to honor my mother who also had breast cancer and the whole breast cancer community. I fear recurrence in my daughter and myself, but I am inspired by the advances in treatment and restoration.”

 Breast cancer survivors model lingerie at Ny Fashion week

With her energetic stage-dance, this brave mom got some of the biggest cheers of the night!

alternative hew york fashion week models

I was blown away by the strength of the women who walked in the breast cancer fashion show. I’m grateful I got the opportunity to connect with many of them over the weekend, and hear their stories.

fashion benefit event breast cancer stage 4

Molly says, “These two photos capture the absolute silly, giggly parts and the quiet, tender parts of the relationship between my mom and me — which was strengthened through my treatment.”

(Credits: Backstage pro photos are courtesy Tammy Tarabola, and the professional catwalk photos of Molly and Deborah are by Carey Kirkella. The rest of the images are by me.)

new york coats jackets cold weather

Molly adds a tribute to her amazing father. “My dad stood by my mom’s side during her treatment years ago and then mine decades later. He bravely learned about things I don’t think most dads would consider their “department” — and of course, he was in New York to support them to the fullest.

w hotel downtown new york lobby design

When the hard work of modeling is over, it’s time to party! Molly put on a sheer bodysuit and glitter heels for the NY Fashion Week afterparty.

ny fashion week afterparty guests party photos

We hung out with her friends and supporters, and celebrated the success of the nonprofit fashion show.

mongolian lambswool coat, lamb fur jacket

As VIP guests, we left with a swag bag of delights, including ChitoCare Icelandic beauty products. Without doubt, this was my best New York Fashion Week to date.

genuine Lamb Fur pink Mongolian Coat, sheep jackets

Ah, I miss that NYC street energy… I’ll surely be back soon (and I have some additional stories from the city to share with you.)

Wearing a Sourpuss Clothing Goth beret, and Skandinavik Mongolian lamb fur coat of dreams.

breast  cancer surgery scars nyfw  models

Cheers to everyone who made the AnaOno x CancerlandMETAvivor fashion show a success! The funds raised 100% went to much-needed Stage 4 breast cancer research.

I’m keen to do more to get the word out — these ladies deserve our support, and I’m grateful I got to share in their NYFW 2020 experience.


Filed Under Fashion, New York
1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Bestleatherny
    Posted March 14, 2022 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

    Excellent and A wonderful read! Your article is the best one I have learned, and it has helped me. Keep doing that.

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked with *