Area women take NYC fashion world by storm

By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Regional - posted Mon., Feb. 11, 2013
Models and campaign partners board buses in Dayville for their trip to NYC. Photos by D. Coffey.
Models and campaign partners board buses in Dayville for their trip to NYC. Photos by D. Coffey.

For the first time in 11 years, the Heart Truth Red Dress Collection Fashion Show enlisted the aid of a non-celebrity as a model. Cindy Parsons, of Danielson, was invited to model with 18 actresses, singers and news personalities on Feb. 6 at the Hammerstein Ballroom on West 34th Street in New York City.

Each woman wore a red dress designed for the occasion. Sponsored by the National Institutes of Heart, Blood and Lung, the Red Dress Collection has become part of a national campaign to educate women about heart health. And since it kicks off Fashion Week in the Big Apple, it has also come to symbolize the beauty and strength of women everywhere.

Parsons was invited to model an Adrianna Papell floor-length gown because of her participation in “Follow the Fifty,” a nine-month heart health initiative conducted by the Northeast District Department of Health. More than 130 Windham County women joined the program to increase their heart health and decrease their risks of heart disease, the number-one killer of women in the United States. Because of the program's overwhelming success and widespread support from the community, national partners asked that a FTF representative participate in the show. Parsons took her place alongside celebrity models after losing 78 pounds and lowering her resting heart rate, blood pressure and body mass index with the FTF program. She is living proof that the adoption of healthy habits can increase the quality of life, whether it be on Rodeo Drive or Main Street, USA.

CNN correspondent Soledad O'Brien opened the show in spectacular fashion in a Black Halo Eve gown. Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglas, wearing a Pamella Roland high low dress, walked the catwalk to Culture Club's “I'll Tumble 4 Ya.” Actress Brenda Strong was gorgeous in a cowl-neck Marc Bower with billowy sleeves. Fitness guru Jillian Michaels took her 40-second turn on the runway to Snoop Dogg's “I Just Want to Make You Sweat.”

Television personality Wendy Williams dazzled in a Kamali Kulture. Actress Jamie Chung delighted the audience when she fashioned a heart with her hands as she modeled David Meister. Roselyn Sanchez, in a Tadashi Shoji, danced her way down the cat walk to Gloria Estafan's “Conga.”

Fashion photographers snapped away and bloggers reported their finds in real time as the women made their gorgeous entries, billowy turns and exquisite exits.

Parsons had her own hair and make-up crews, as well as three busloads of fans attending the premier event. More than 150 “Follow the Fifty” models and campaign partners joined Parsons at the Hammerstein for her debut performance. Pomfret First Selectman Maureen Nicholson, wearing a three-tiered dress and open-toed shoes with sassy ribbon, watched from the balcony. “It's all about the pearls,” she quipped.

The Connecticut Audubon Society's Sarah Hemingway, who traded in her Uggs for a square neck bolero jacket over fusion design dress and heels, was disappointed when the show ended. Fortunately for FTF fans, the catwalk opened up after the show. Soon models were on the runway, posing for their own shots. 

Nancy Roberts wore a taffeta dress with sweetheart neckline and silver shoes from Dana Bachman. Roberta Davis sported three-quarter-length sleeves with a draped neckline in a Chaps gown that she called, “designed for comfort.” Alma Morey stepped out in a two-piece ensemble in wild berry with stunning cubic zirconium pin. Linda Colangelo wore a one-shoulder sequined floor-length gown with fireworks-inspired jewelry. Laura Crossetti wore an off-the-shoulder taffeta floor-length gown with train. Dawn Libby strutted the catwalk in a sleeveless, goddess-style gown. Kathy Knapp wore a lace-layered dress with sequins, v-neck and cap sleeves. Brittany Otto wore a empire-waisted taffeta dress with ruching. All the women were ushered off the runway when their charter buses pulled to the curb to take them back to the Quiet Corner. 

As the buses made their way up 10th Avenue and across upper Manhattan, the women quieted down. The lights of the city faded, but not so quickly the visions of those stunningly beautiful women in their 40 seconds of glory on the catwalk at the Hammerstein.

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