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NHLBI Hosts the Red Dress Collection 2004 Fashion Show

For Immediate Release:
February 6, 2004

New York, NY -- The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) Red Dress returns to center stage today as the Red Dress Collection 2004 debuts at Olympus Fashion Week. The Red Dress, the national symbol for women and heart disease awareness, was created and first introduced by NHLBI, one of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), at February's Fashion Week 2003.

The one-of-a-kind star-studded fashion show brings together on one runway 26 of the most influential American designers paired with leading elite models for the first time ever. Sponsored by NHLBI, and made possible by Johnson & Johnson and affiliated companies, the collection of red dresses was created exclusively for NHLBI's The Heart Truth campaign to raise awareness about heart disease, the #1 killer of women. The Red Dress Collection 2004 fashion show will be held at noon on February 6, in Studio Noir, under the tents at Bryant Park's Olympus Fashion Week.

Walking for women and heart disease awareness are some of the industry's most recognized fashion models including Hana Soukupova, Alex Wek, Frankie Rayder, Liya Kebede, Daria Werbowy, and last year's Red Dress spokesmodel Angela Lindvall, as well as Hollywood's own Vanessa Williams, spokesperson for LifeWise by RadioShack, a health promotion campaign.

"Having all of the fashion industry leaders, including the designers and these top models, join us for the sole purpose of educating women about their #1 health risk sends a powerful message," says Barbara Alving, M.D., Acting Director, NHLBI. "We want women across America to hear our united appeal loud and clear: Talk to your doctor about your personal risks for heart disease and start to take steps today to lead a heart healthy life."

Designers donated exclusive creations to the Red Dress Collection 2004 to help alert their target audience that heart disease is their #1 health risk. Participating designers include: Baby Phat, Badgley Mischka, Betsey Johnson, Bill Blass, Calvin Klein, Carmen Marc Valvo, Carolina Herrera, Catherine Malandrino, Cynthia Steffe, Diane von Furstenberg, Donna Karan, Esteban Cortazar, Kenneth Cole, Luca Luca, Marc Jacobs, Matthew Williamson, Michael Kors, Narciso Rodriguez, Nicole Miller, Oscar de la Renta, Proenza Schouler, Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger and Vera Wang.

"The fashion industry is well aware of its power to influence women and wants to harness the power behind the Red Dress to help save women's lives," said Fern Mallis, executive director, IMG/7th on Sixth. "We need to reach out to women in a variety of ways to truly make a difference, and by using the fashion industry's collective talents, we hope women will hear these life-saving messages."

Also introduced on Friday, February 6 in support of the Red Dress is National Wear Red Day. This awareness day, designated in a presidential proclamation, provides women and men across the country a way to participate in this awareness movement.

"Through creative partnership with celebrities and the fashion industry for our fashion show, combined with our national outreach to organizations across the country for National Wear Red Day, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is committed to reaching millions of women with information that can help them live longer, healthier lives," added Alving.

Only 9 percent of women 45 to 64 years of age name heart disease as the condition they most fear, while 61 percent name breast cancer.

"Heart disease is preventable if women are informed and encouraged to talk to their doctors to find out what their personal risk factors are and how to control them," said Nancy Snyderman, M.D., Vice President, Medical Affairs, Johnson & Johnson. "In fact, just by making simple changes towards a healthier lifestyle, women can lower their risk of heart disease by 82 percent. Johnson & Johnson is committed to increasing awareness among women and those who love them," added Snyderman.

Heart disease risk factors include those that are beyond women's control and those that can be changed. Those that can't be changed are a family history of early heart disease and age. The risk factors that can be controlled are smoking, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, overweight/obesity, physical inactivity and diabetes. While having even one risk factor is dangerous, having multiple risk factors is especially serious, because risk factors tend to "gang up" and worsen each other's effects.

The Heart Truth is a national awareness campaign about women and heart disease sponsored by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Heath, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The Red Dress Collection 2004 fashion show was made possible by Johnson & Johnson and affiliated companies, with the support of members of the fashion and entertainment industries and IMG/7th on Sixth (producers of Olympus Fashion Week).

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