, Salem, MA

October 16, 2012

All eyes on breast cancer awareness during fashion event

By Cheryl Lecesse
The Salem News

DANVERS — Lorraine Roy Designer Collections is bringing pink to the catwalk.

On Thursday, Nov. 1, the Danvers shop and fellow sponsors will present Illusions, a magical fashion event to help make breast cancer disappear, at the Danversport Yacht Club.

“Because we’re a women’s store, we decided it would be nice to do something that primarily affects women,” said owner Jeanne Hennessey. “Unfortunately, we all know so many people who have been affected by breast cancer.”

The fashion show will benefit the Breast Oncology Program at the Mass General / North Shore Cancer Center.

“We wanted to give to breast cancer, but we wanted to remain local at the same time rather than give to Avon or Susan G. Komen,” Hennessey said. “We wanted to make a difference in our own neighborhood.”

She added: “I’ve had relatives who’ve been treated so wonderfully there. It’s nice to give back when you know people who have benefited from all of their expertise and compassion.”

In addition to professional models showing off Lorraine Roy’s dress collections, 12 local breast cancer survivors will make their way down the catwalk, modeling a series of trench coats that will be raffled off throughout the evening.

Hennessey said the survivors range in age from their 30s to their 70s, and each will be recognized with a short story about their cancer fight.

Among the survivor models will be Noreen Forlizzi of Danvers. Forlizzi, now 57, was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was 32. She celebrated her 25th anniversary in June.

“I was very lucky. I never had a problem,” she said.

Forlizzi found a lump while doing a breast exam on herself. A registered nurse in the outpatient oncology ward at St. Elizabeth’s in Brighton at the time, she was aware of the possibilities. She made an appointment, and doctors determined the lump was cancer.

With two young children at home — a 5-year-old son and 3-year-old daughter — she opted for a bilateral mastectomy with breast reconstruction.

“I wanted the most assurance I could get,” she said. “It turned out to be a great decision.”

A neighbor of Hennessey’s, Forlizzi is very familiar with her charitable fashion shows, although Illusions will be the first in which she will be an active participant. She said she’s looking forward to it.

“This a whole new experience for me, so it will be fun,” she said.

Hennessey said the event has been met with tremendous response so far.

“We’ve already sold more than a few hundred tickets,” she said.

In line with its magical theme, Illusions will feature four magicians donating their time to entertain, as well as raffle prizes, cocktails, and dueling piano players from Boston’s Howl at the Moon nightclub.

“We wanted it to be fun, upbeat, and interactive with the audience,” said Hennessey.

Rather than having separate baskets up for grabs, ticket holders will have the chance to win raffle tables, each worth around $500. Themes include books, golf, and a “Fifty Shades of Grey” table, featuring gray accessories and handbags. A separate Hocus Pocus board will offer guaranteed prizes to those who play.

“Women in the area are jumping on board,” she said. “People want to help.”

Lorraine Roy holds a fashion show every year, each for a different charity. Sponsors include the Danvers Butchery, People’s United Bank and East Boston Savings Bank. Paula’s Salon does the hair styling for the models, and The Makeup Artist provides the makeup. Hennessey said raffle prize donations are still being accepted, and sponsorships are still available.